In the Greek Orthodox Church there are many days during the year that faithful fast from meat and dairy. But Greeks are infamous for their sweet tooth and don’t like going without cake.
This delicious olive oil, apricot, almond and tahini cake is vegan-friendly and can be enjoyed all-year round — whether fasting or not.
The photo above shows the cake drizzled with tahini and honey but the apricot jam is equally delicious and makes the cake suitable for plant-based diets. The cake is moist enough to be served as dessert also if accompanied by a fresh apricot compote, extra toasted almond flakes and even double cream if serving non-vegans.
The recipe for this dish (see below) comes from the new cookbook of Irini Tzortzoglou, the 2019 champion of MasterChef U.K., one of the United Kingdom’s premier cooking shows which garners up to 5 million weekly viewers during its season.
Tzortzoglou’s book “Under the Olive Tree” is a stunning and user-friendly collection of delicious Greek family recipes, stories and wisdom from the author herself.
The Crete-born chef includes accessible, everyday dishes for the home cook, as well as an entertaining section full of tips and tricks for when you have extra time or want to impress your guests.
Not only is Tzortzoglou a fabulous cook, but she is a great teacher who cannot wait to show readers the dishes of her beloved homeland. With more than 80 recipes, “Under the Olive Tree” is this chef’s celebration of Greece.
Her book covers meals for all occasions — from breakfasts to quick dinners via salads full of sunshine, to feasting for Christmas, Easter and dinner parties.
“These recipes represent me as a cook and diner in that I like to experiment a little in putting flavors together, mixing classic combinations with my own touches,” Tzortzoglou says.
For the cake
- 125ml extra virgin olive oil
- 75ml sunflower oil
- 125g icing sugar
- 75g ground almonds
- 75g dried apricots
- 60ml brandy
- ½ orange, zest only
- ½ lemon, zest only
- 225g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
For the topping
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2-3 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 tbsp almond flakes
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
Grease and dust with flour a pretty cake tin.
Put the almonds and sesame seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over a medium to high heat shaking the pan from time to time to avoid them burning. Empty on a small plate and keep to the side.
Finely slice three apricots and reserve for the topping. Roughly chop the rest and soak them in a bowl with the brandy for 15 minutes.
In a bowl sieve the flour with the baking powder.
In another larger bowl, whisk the olive and sunflower oil with the sieved icing sugar for a few minutes. Add the zest and chopped apricots with half the brandy. Mix with a spatula and gradually fold the flour in. Use the remaining brandy to soak the sliced apricots for the topping.
Spoon the cake mix into the cake tin and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 320 F (160 C) and continue baking for another 50-55 minutes. Test that a thin blade knife or skewer come out clean when inserted in the cake. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and turn onto a pretty plate. Add 1 tbsp of sunflower oil to loosen the tahini if too thick and drizzle over the cake.
In a small saucepan heat the apricot jam with 2 tbsp of water to thin. Drain the sliced apricots and use the brandy to mix into the apricot jam. Stir the jam and drizzle over the tahini. Finish by sprinkling the cake with the toasted almond flakes, sesame seeds and the sliced apricots.
About Irini Tzortzoglou
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