Italian Grape Cake – using up fresh grapes

If you want the history this is a Tuscan cake, traditionally made during the grape harvest to use up the small grapes not going for pressing, and god knows I have so many grapes lately that any recipes that use them up are welcome.

It’s a whisked cake, which is one of the classic cake making methods they tried to drum into us in domestic science classes. Well, they tried to drum it into those they thought could cook, I couldn’t cook, I wasn’t allowed to cook, I was at the back of the class ironing my hideous cookery teacher’s hideous husband’s laundry – horrible woman! Fortunately I have this tricky memory and so I remember her talking about the method above the hiss of the steam iron as I slid it viciously into the crotch of his vile boxers. So I know how to make whisked cakes as well as iron properly.

Anyway, enough with the rubbish. This cake is so easy it’s unreal, it’s a variation on the traditional Italian Torta di Nada and it produces an incredibly moist but light cake, ideal for a sunny September afternoon.

All the measuring is done with a dessertspoon, you don’t need scales. With all cake making it’s about the proportions not the numbers. But If you feel uncomfortable with my bucket methods of cookery there are proper measurements at the bottom of this entry.

In a plastic jug put two dessertspoons of butter and melt them quickly in the microwave. Then add four dessertspoons of olive oil, six dessertspoons of milk and a splash of vanilla essence.

Put ten dessertspoons of white sugar in a mixing bowl and add two eggs. The eggs always work better at room temperature. Whisk them until they are thick and creamy and pale lemon colour. This is about two minutes with an electric whisk.

Now pour your melted butter, oil and vanilla essence onto the whisked eggs and sugar and whisk again briefly.

Your dry ingredients are lemon self raising flour (Kekunu), salt and baking powder. Take twenty dessertspoons of lemon self raising flour, half a dessertspoon of baking powder and a good pinch of salt (okay, it’s half a teaspoon!).

Fold the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients, then back in with the electric whisk and whisk until you have a smooth thick batter.

Take three handfuls of purple grapes, seedless if possible. If I don’t have seedless I just pick over a bunch of normal purple grapes looking for the smallest ones and use them, their seeds are really tiny and won’t matter. Add two handfuls to the batter mixture and slowly fold them in until they are well covered in mixture.

Pour the mixture into a greased 8 inch cake tin and put in the middle of a medium oven – I use 150 degrees but then I use 150 degrees for most things, you’ll know your own oven best.

Spend five minutes getting sticky licking out the mixing bowl whilst dreamily staring at the sunlight on the pine trees through the kitchen window, then open the oven and take the remaining handful of grapes and scatter them over the top of the top of the cake. Return to the oven for another 35 minutes.

You may need to cover the cake with foil for the last ten minutes so the grapes don’t burn but the centre has time to set. Test with a knife, if when inserted it comes out clean the cake is cooked through.

Whilst still hot I scatter the top with brown sugar, some of which melts to form a glaze and some of which stays nice and crunchy for texture.

If you are new to cooking in Turkey:-

KekUnu is self raising flour, Sinangil is the usual make, and you normally get it in Tansas and Kipa. It comes in three flavours, Lemon, Chocolate and Sade (unflavoured) it isn’t as strong as self raising flour from home so you need to give it a bit of help with Baking Powder.

Self Raising Flour in Turkey - KekUnu
Baking Powder in Turkey
Baking powder in Turkey is Hamur Kabartma Tozu and it comes in little 10g packets, Dr Oetker make it and if you only had plain flour and no normal baking powder I would add two packets to this recipe.

Afternoon Tea - scotch eggs, pickles, roast grape chutney and grape cake

Proper Recipe

10 oz small purple grapes
2 oz butter (melted)
5 oz sugar
2 eggs
4 oz olive oil
6 oz milk
10 oz self raising flour (lemon)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt

Hope you enjoy the cake, despite the long explanation it is really easy to make and is gorgeous this time of year when with cooler temperatures we feel more like eating and baking cakes we couldn’t face a few weeks ago!

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