In season right now are nectarines. Yes, they’re basically peaches but without the fuzzy skin. In season from about May through to October, they’re at their best between July & August though. These pretty round, yellow-red stone fruits are actually a type of peach, however nectarines are smaller, firmer & whilst being slightly more acidic, have a more honey-like taste & aroma, far stronger than that of a peach.
The more commonly available nectarine (or at least it is when you live in the back end of nowere, South Wales) are the yellow fleshed variety. Slightly more acidic & tart than its white fleshed cousin but still a sweet, luscious summer fruit.
Nectarines are beautiful on their own, stewed (paired with ice cream, obviously!) or even as part of salad. Today though, they’re going in a cake… but not just any cake… these beautifully hued summed fruits are taking centre stage, gloriously glistening a top a light, flavourful, pistachio sponge.
The inspiration behind this cake was quite simply, beautiful summer colours. I wanted to pair the luscious yellow flesh & bright, blush skin tones against the yellowing green of pistachios. I’m generally not a fan of fondant, whilst elaborate, colourful, sugar -laden cakes are very pretty look at it, they don’t draw me in. I don’t want to taste them, merely admire the craftsmanship that’s gone into said decoration.
For me, it’s all about naked sponges, glistening fruits , pretty petals & crunchy nuts… I much prefer a natural form of decoration. I love being able to look at a pastry or cake & immediately know what I’m about to eat (with the exception of weird & wonderful travel eats anyway!). As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes, we’ve all been there, when you see something delicious & can almost taste it before the first bite. Hopefully this humble little loaf taps into those exact feelings as you eagerly await that first slice.
NECTARINE & PISTACHIO LOAF
(makes one 2lb loaf)
For the sponge:
- 100g pistachios
- 175g butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 nectarines, sliced
- 15g pistachios, roughly chopped
- 2 tbps apricot jam
- Begin by greasing & lining a 2lb (30cm) loaf tin with baking parchment
- Place the pistachios into the bowl of a food processor & blitz until the pistachios are fine, with no large pieces of nut left (be careful not to overdo the pistachios, pulse the nuts as opposed to continuously processing them to avoid them becoming oily)
- In a large bowl beat together the butter & sugar until light & pale
- Add the eggs to the bowl one at a time, beating well after each addition
- Add the vanilla & salt to the bowl & stir these through
- Sift in the flour, baking powder & processed pistachios into the bowl & beat until well combined & no dry pockets of flour remain
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin & carefully arrange the nectarine slices on top of the cake in two, neat rows
- Bake the cake at 180°C for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes until it turns a golden brown colour & a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out cleanly when removed
- Allow the cake to cool in its tin for 10 minutes before removing & placing onto a cooling rack
- Once cooled, gently heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan or in the microwave & brush this all over the top of the fruit
- Finish by sprinkling over the remaining chopped pistachios