Tea cakes couldn’t be easier to make than this lovely fruit-topped torte with a soft and moist texture, topped with nectarines and chopped walnuts, and dusted liberally with cinnamon and sprinkles of sugar.
I’m super excited to share this amazing cake with you! Thanks to a dear friend who kindly gave us a load of just ripe nectarines over the weekend, I had an excuse, not that I ever needed one, to make this amazingly (yes, there’s that word again) delicious nectarine walnut torte.
The original recipe was for a purple plum torte by Smitten Kitchen, but as I never got around to getting any plums in stock – it’s not a fruit I typically go out of my way to get, as I tend to get side-tracked by berries, cherries, and whatever else that’s in season – this recipe got buried, but was always somewhat consciously at the back of my mind, lingering, everpresent, yet an opportunity unfulfilled. So when I received these nectarines, I immediately thought of this, and decided to adapt it to make a nectarine walnut torte.
I actually favour nectarines over plums, though I do enjoy the latter immensely as well, but I can see this recipe being great with peaches, pears, apricots, apples, and other none-too-juicy fruits, as well. This torte is fundamentally, a butter cake, so almost immediately, I think you’ll be spoilt for choice as to what fruits you’d like to incorporate. I also love fruit and nut combinations, so chopped walnuts are sprinkled over the torte, and adds a nice crunch to the texture – something I always appreciate, and well, what hubby loves.
For a recipe that looks so simple and well, rather ordinary, at first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that nothing special can come out of it. But this is truly no ordinary torte – even when I swapped the plums for nectarines and reduced the sweetness, it still turned out spectacular. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve had fruit tortes that tasted this good, in quite a while.
Now then, whatever your choice of fruit, it’s a good idea to taste how sweet they are, so that you can adjust the amount of sugar you’re going to use. With Western cake recipes, I tend to cut back quite a bit on the sugar (I reduced the 1 cup or 200 gm sugar called for in the recipe, to 3/4 cup or 150 gm, and thought it was just right, given I had ripe nectarines of course). I can see why one might go with the original amount of sugar if it’s a batch of sour plums. Just in case you’re tempted to really reduce a LOT of sugar, do be aware that sugar actually adds moistness to your cake, so with less (or a lot less), the cake will not be as moist as the recipe intended.
And do make an estimate of how much fruit you’ll need as it all depends on the size. I ended up using only 8 nectarines, while the original recipe uses 12 small plums, so it’s all relative here. With a 23-cm (9-inch) springform cake pan, this makes a short cake, barely an inch-and-a-half high. If you’d like a taller cake, you could either double the batter (not the fruit), or use a smaller cake pan, but then, you’d use less fruit for a smaller surface area.
What more can I tell you? Except the most important fact of all, of course, that this nectarine torte is tender, fluffy, and moist, with a pure buttery flavour sweetened by the tender, softened flesh of cinnamon-dusted nectarines, and its juices caramelised by heat, just slightly oozing and seeping into the cusps of soft cake beneath, making it almost custardy.
I actually baked it for a tad longer than I should have (yes, my attention was off the timer, which happens probably more often than I’d care to admit, when I’m feeling like Supergirl and trying to do a zillion things all at once…), hence, the toasty brown appearance (could it also be all that cinnamon that I dosed on top??), but the unexpected outcome was a welcomed crispness to its crust. It all just came together beautifully, taste and texture wise! The recommended suggestion is to let the cake rest overnight at room temperature, covered, till all the juices and flavours come together, tasting even more delicious the day after. But, did I wait? Nooo… (but I would, if I really could).
(Day after baking: Reached for a slice of this, and true to this recipe creator’s word, the flavours came together and is utterly yummy-licious! So, do, do, do wait a day, if you can, or bake a day ahead if you’re planning to serve this cake … everyone will be wow-ed!).
- 125 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 150 g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp, depending on sweetness of fruit used
- 115 g butter softened at room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 8 nectarines, halved and pitted
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Handful chopped walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 175 deg C (350 deg F). Place oven rack in the centre of the oven. Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23-cm (9-inch) springform pan (optional).
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed (speed 3 on my Kitchen Aid mixer), until fluffy, and light or pale in colour. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl, until well incorporated. Then add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Spoon out batter into the prepared springform pan, and level the surface. Arrange the nectarine halves, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle lemon juice all over, then cinnamon powder, and lastly, a tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle chopped nuts over the exposed parts of the batter.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the centre of the oven, or until a metal skewer inserted into the exposed cake (not the fruit), emerges free of sticky batter. Remove from oven, and let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove the springform rim, and let cake cool completely on the pan's base set on a cooling rack.
Recommended: Let cake rest overnight, covered with a tea cloth, at room temperature - the flavours will come together and taste even better the next day.