Mother’s Day is upon us once more, a time for great celebration. This is a pre-gan cake, eggs and dairy included, so I won’t be making it again myself, but it’s a fancy one for a special occasion. The marzipan gives it a certain fanciness – marzipan makes me think of simnel cakes at Easter, or Christmas cake. And Mother’s Day is surely worthy of such a fancy, celebratory cake.
I’m pleased to have a Mother who is not only lovely, generous and supportive, but who also provides me with infinite entertainment. To wit: She is a keen rugby fan and delights on telling me how the Six Nations pan out, refusing to be deterred by my ‘I don’t care’ expression and loud, obnoxious yawns. Occasionally I do manage to rouse myself from my disinterest and attempt to have a conversation about it with her. In the final game of the Six Nations, an England victory could only be ensured by France winning their last game. You’d think this meant that when France took an early lead she would have been delighted. Far from it. Our conversation during the first half went like this:
Me: Are France winning then?
Mother: (sadly) Yes.
Me: I thought we wanted them to win?
Mother: Yes, but it’s a shame for Ireland to lose at this stage.
Me: …but…you do understand how sport works, don’t you? There can only be one winner.
Mother: I know.
Me: And you want it to be us?
Mother: Well, I don’t want Ireland to lose.
Fast forward to the end of the match:
Me: So Ireland won! Are you pleased?
Mother: I’m gutted we didn’t win.
She doesn’t want anyone to lose, even when it means her own team wins. She cries at Aladdin. She is a mystery. But she’s also a good egg! Happy Mother’s Day!
Apricot & Marzipan Loaf
Makes 1x900g loaf cake, or 2 smaller, from The Great British Bake-Off: How To Bake
300g self raising flour
pinch of salt
150g butter, softened
100g golden caster sugar
100g dried apricots, quartered
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g golden marzipan, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
To finish: 2 tbsp apricot jam, 1 tbsp boiling water, handful flaked almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and base-line a loaf tin (or use disposable ones). Put the flour and pinch of salt in a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the sugar.
3. Add the sultanas and chopped apricots, mix well.
4. In a jug, beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla.
5. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well combined – it makes quite a heavy batter.
6. If you are making one big cake, put one third of the batter into the prepared loaf tin (you may need to spread it with a spoon/knife to get the mixture into the corners). Sprinkle on half of the marzipan cubes.
7. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining half of marzipan cubes, and finish off with the remaining batter. Smooth it down as best you can and rap the tin sharply on the counter to get rid of any air pockets.
8. Bake for 40 minutes for smaller loaves, 60-75 minutes for a full size loaf. Test with a skewer/toothpick.
9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you’ve used a metal tin, run a round-bladed knife around the edges of the tin to loosen the cake but leave it in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out to cool.
10. When the cake has cooled, make the glaze. Gently warm through the jam and water.
11. Brush the sticky glaze over the cake and scatter on the flaked almonds. Leave to set.