February 21, 2013
Great Aunt Daisy's Grape Cake
My Great Aunt Daisy died recently
She lived a lovely full life, and was quite a notable cook in the family with many of her recipes reaching near legendary status.
As part of her Life Celebration, family members were given a page of her favourite recipes including her handwritten notes on the side. What a lovely memorial, the idea that her legacy of culinary love can be shared and preserved for future generations. I was so excited to read through these, and also very honored to be able to share them with my own family, and also with you Dear Readers.
Usually I can get a feel for a recipe and a have a good idea of how it's going to turn out by reading it through, but I just couldn't nut out one of these cakes- and that really intrigued me.
It was simply called Grape Cake, and with a list of just 6 ingredients including fresh grapes and an egg, it called for 5 of them to be boiled up together before baking.
I just had to make it!
There was also only minimal instructions for this cake, as most people of our grandmothers era had at least a basic grasp of cookery skills in the days before most mass-produced markets, so I've tried to expand it a bit to make it simpler to follow. Let's hope Aunt Daisy would have approved.
Great Aunt Daisy's Grape Cake
Converted to metric:
225g Butter or lactose free substitute
2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
1 cup Sugar
450g seedless Grapes
2 cups Self Raising gluten free Flour
pinch of Salt
Bring the first 5 ingredients slowly to the boil
I muddled the egg before adding it, then kept stirring as it melted and boiled so as not to scramble it- yuck!
As it gets hotter, keep stirring or it will stick and start to caramelise on the bottom of the pan. Stir, stir, stir!
Pull the pan off the heat then add in the flour and salt.
Mix it through thoroughly making sure the grapes are well distributed
The mix will initially sort of foam up a bit before going kind of grainy looking, then as you continue mixing it will form a relatively stiff dough
Instead of making one larger cake in a 20cm or 8 inch pan, I chose to make individual ones in a 1 cup capacity pan. This batter was enough to make about 10 little lovelies this way.
I tried to make sure that the batter/dough was pressed down as I didn't want any gaps between the grapes from trapped air or in case they shrunk a bit as they cooked
I cooked these at 180*C for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out cleanly- just don't spear a grape! For a bigger pan the original recipe said to give them 35 to 45 minutes as I guess the mix would be spread quite a bit thinner than these smaller, taller ones.
I tried taking them out of the pan after about 10 minutes, but they were a bit delicate, slightly soft and a bit crumbly. Instead I left them to cool completely in the pan, and they firmed up just fine
I wasn't sure which side would make for the best presentation- top or bottom, so I tried both. The tops were a bit uneven as the dough isn't fluid enough to self level as it cooks, and the mix sunk a little around the grapes. The bottom had a lovely smooth finish to it and a more uniform look. It's up to you to choose :)
I really hadn't known quite what to expect with this particular recipe, but I was very happy with how it turned out indeed.
It was a lovely moist cake with a surprisingly nice flavour given the subtlety of the grapes, the golden syrup made it taste quite caramelised actually. The outside of the cake had a delicate crumbly feel, while the inside stayed nice and moist with little bursts of yum from the grapes. I wonder how it work with red ones instead?
If grapes aren't your thing, you could certainly use small chunks of apple or another firmer style fruit. I think softer ones would collapse quite a bit and maybe go a bit mushy.
It actually reminded me of my Strawberry Rhubarb Torte recipe, even though it wasn't boiled and the other one contained almond meal- go figure!
So Dear Reader, do you have anyone in your family who has a legendary recipe or two?
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Oh I could imagine this cake served warm with custard!!! YUM!ReplyDelete
What a lovely idea dividing up your aunties recipes. That truley is a very special way of remembering someone.
I have to admit, I too am intrigued by this cake :)
Hi GG! I thought it was such a lovely legacy too. It is quite an unusual recipe isn't it? I was (pleasantly) surprised how well it turned out :)Delete
That looks really interesting and I've had some really good grapes lately so they would be perfect for this! I might give this a go! :DReplyDelete
The grapes have been nice and sweet haven't they Lorraine? Let me know if you try it out, and I sure hope MrNQN likes it :) xDelete
Bec, what a beautiful recipe you have shared. Thank you.ReplyDelete
And thank you too Lizzy :)Delete
Waw! What a superb cake! grapes in a cake: awesome!!! MMM!ReplyDelete
Thanks Sophie, It was certainly a new one for me too :)Delete
How lovely to have those recipes with all her little notes. My grandmother was a very good cook and I so wish I had a copy of her recipes. I've never boiled a cake before cooking it! And how minimalist is the list of ingredients! But your little cakes look divine. I would love to try this recipe xxReplyDelete
I hope your hungry hordes enjoy it Charlie! It's nice to try a new technique- especially if it works out :)Delete
I also have some recipe books from my great Grandmother and I just love to check out the splattered pages of what must have been family favourites xox
Sorry to hear about your lost. On a lighter note, I think it's wonderful that recipes can be past down to generations down the road. This truly is an unique method of making cakes. :) They look totally delicious too.ReplyDelete
Thanks Amy! It does make me feel very connected to my family in a very unique way. I was so happy the cakes turned out so well :)Delete
what a wonderful memorial idea! I love reading through old cookbooks and the margin notes - god knows I scrawl over all my cookbooks and I imagine one day my daughter will inherit them and take note of the tips I've added. This is the first time I've ever heard of a grape cake and it looks fantastic. Perfect for a CWA afternoon tea!ReplyDelete
Oh it would be a good for the CWA, wouldn't it? I always think of them as 'real'cakes, ones that aren't necessarily the trendiest ones, but ones that are full of honest flavour and ingredients :) I'm sure your daughter will love having your personal touch on all her favourite meals to pass on to her children too!Delete
What a wonderful legacy your great aunt left, Becca! This is a really unusual recipe and method of construction, but what lovely little cakes you've ended up with!ReplyDelete
Thanks Celia! It certainly was unusual, luckily it tasted good :) I have some handwritten recipes from my Great Grandmother as well that I think I'll frame and put in my kitchen. It really makes me feel connected in a special way xoxDelete
I'm sure great aunt Daisy would be thrilled with your rendition. I had a couple of aunts who were cracker cooks - I can't see a cream puff or apricot shortcake without thinking of them.ReplyDelete
Thanks! They sound like they sure knew their way around a wooden spoon or two Amanda :) Apricot shortbread sounds delicous!Delete
Your Great Aunt Daisy sounds like quite the lady and chef :) I think your take on her grape cake turned out quite well. I've made one boiled batter recipe - for pain d'epice - it was an interesting experience.ReplyDelete
My grandmother passed away recently, and no one - seriously NO ONE - can cook potatoes the way she could. She usually roasted with garlic or stir-fried with spices - simple enough - but they were so much better when she made them :)
Isn't it funny how some people just have the knack with a recipe, and no one- I mean no one- can ever get it just the right way again! Pain d'epice is such a lovely cake, did it turn out well?Delete
What a lovely thing to have Rebecca. Do you think the recipe would work if you boiled all the ingredients except the eggs and flour like a fruit cake and then added them at the end?ReplyDelete
I don't know Tania, I certainly had never boiled batter ingredients with the egg in it before. I've never even heard of it- have you? I might need to do some research on this one... Tasted good though! :)Delete
Im so sorry to hear about your Great Aunt :( what a great way to honour her though. She would most certainly approve.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much Nic! I sure hope so, and that it wasn't some sworn-to-secrecy recipe passed down for thousands of years :)Delete
My condolences, but what a lovely way to celebrate her life :) Love the recipe!ReplyDelete
I was a little skeptical (I often find handed-down recipes to be a little lacking in description due to the hand-downer having made it so often), but that results look great!ReplyDelete