I took another round of pottery classes this Spring, and finally got most of the pieces I made all of those months ago back from the studio (the plates in this post). Making pottery is a good exercise for me. It is one that requires a lot of patience, which I find myself in short supply of these days. With pottery there is a lot of waiting: waiting for things to dry to trim, waiting for things to dry to fire, waiting for the bisque fire, then glazing, then the glaze fire. Then sometimes, you get to the end of all of it, after hours and hours of work, and your shit breaks at the very last moment (like the cracked green plate below). It is unavoidable and it happens to the most experienced potters. It is a craft that requires a lot of humility.
Baking comes much easier. It feels natural and simple and I can generally bake things really, really fast - very little patience required. These little summer fruit cakes are that kind of easy treat: quickly thrown together, but quite pretty and tasty. Use any small fruit you like for these cakes, my favorites of the ones pictured were the cakes with little slices of apricots and blackberries, but use whatever you have around. It is a great way to use up little bits of things you may have kicking around in the fridge.
Pretty Little Summer Fruit Cakes
makes 8-15 cakes, depending on the size of the molds
I used about 10 small brioche molds and 2 mini loaf pans here and a combination of lots of odds and ends of fruit that were left in my fridge. Any summer fruit, cut into thin slices or berry sized chunks would be great here. I don't mind the flavor of almond extract in almond cakes, but I know it is a divisive ingredient so feel free to leave it out if you aren't a fan.
6 ounces high quality butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups assorted summer fruit (berries, halved and pitted cherries, sliced apricots, peaches or nectarines, and currants are all great options)
Preheat oven to 325 and great and flour your pans. Put the pans on a baking sheet so they will be easy to move in and out of the oven.
Sift the dry ingredients together, press on the almond meal to help it through the sifter if necessary.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, then slowly stream in the sugar with the mixer on medium speed. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and cream the butter and sugar together until light, fluffy, and smooth. About 3 minutes.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the extracts.
Reduce the speed to low and alternately add the milk and flour mixture. Mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Pour the batter into the pans and top each cake with a few pieces of fruit. Bake the cakes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the pans.
Cool for 20 minutes, then remove the cakes to a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar and an additional berry or two just before serving.