It's been a sombre summer in Australia. Here in Sydney, we're safe from the fires but have been under a thick cloud of smoke since November. That's nothing to complain about compared to the rural and coastal communities north and south of us who've borne the brunt of this climate crisis but I lately haven't felt much like baking or writing about it. With all the footage of fires, and daily reminders of the devastation (awaking to ash blown in with the wind, birds flying indoors in search of water, a blood red sun, people in masks in the streets), it's impossible to be unaffected emotionally by all this. Baking has always been something that makes me feel better. So in an effort to do that recently I made this simple summer cake. I'm glad I did. For the short time it took to make it felt good to be doing something normal when the world right now feels anything but. In times like these it's important to be grateful for the small things. So make cake, share it with people you love, and start a conversation about what you can do.
Simple summer cake
Adapted from a recipe by Julia Busuttil Nishimura
This is infinitely adaptable - Julia encourages you to mix and match fruit as per your taste/contents of your kitchen. I used peaches and raspberries but any combination of the below would be wonderful. Similarly with sugar, feel free to use all caster sugar if you don't have brown. Or white sugar if you don't have caster. No need to buy a special jar of cinnamon sugar - you can make your own just by mixing a bit of ground cinnamon with white sugar. Or don't use it at all!
100g caster (superfine) sugar
50g brown sugar
150g softened unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g plain yoghurt
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
5 or 6 nectarines/peaches/apricots, halved or quartered
cinnamon sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Cream butter and sugar til pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next, then mix in the vanilla and lemon zest if using. Stir through plain yoghurt then fold in flour, mixing til just smooth. Spoon the stiff batter into a square 21cm cake tin lined with baking paper and smooth so surface is level. Press in fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until skewer inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.