The words “Ottolenghi” and “simple” normally don’t go together. Yotam Ottolenghi is well aware of his fame for complicated recipes and hard to source ingredients (as he put it himself in his Guardian column: “I’ve heard the jokes…the one about “just popping out to the local shop to buy the papers, milk, black garlic and sumac”).
He is also a man who moves with the times and recognises peoples’ eternal struggle to find time to cook. This was the inspiration behind his newest cookbook Simple.
If you like Ottolenghi flavours but are put off by the faff, this is the book for you. It includes recipes with 10-or less ingredients, others you can make-ahead of serving, as well as quick meals you can have on the table in under 30 minutes. Within Simple lies one of my favourite cake recipes of all time – a hazelnut sponge with peaches and raspberries.
I’ve tweaked the recipe to give you more options for alternative ingredients because the whole world and his dog are baking at the minute and you’re lucky if you can snag up a bag of flour these days; you can flex this recipe based on what you have to hand.
I also reduced the sugar from 320 to 260 grams – not because I want to make this in any way a “healthy bake” (I think life is way too short for that nonsense). I love the tartness the fruit can provide and don’t want to dim the gloriously nutty richness of the hazelnuts by making the batter overly sweet. It worked really well and I recommend you go for this amount of sugar too.
A note on the fruit: the original recipe calls for 2 large peaches sliced into 1.5 cm wedges + 150 grams raspberries. You could sub apples, plums, apricots, pears…just think, the harder the fruit, the smaller your slices will need to be. For the berries you can use blueberries, strawberries or blackberries, and these can even be frozen. We’re flexing here, but the concept is the same: hazelnut + fruit = winning combo.
Hazelnut + fruits of your choice cake – an Ottolenghi adaptation
- 450 grams of fruit (I used rhuburb and plum and it was cracking)
- 260 grams sugar (original recipe calls for white caster, I used golden – either works)
- 125g hazelnuts (skin off – try to buy them like this as otherwise it’s a bit of a faff, but see here on how to remove the skins if needed)
- 200 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 3 large eggs
- 125 grams plain flour ( if you only have self-raising, half the amount of baking powder)
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- Tiny pinch of salt
- Turn oven to 170 degrees and line a 24cm round cake tin
- Mix your fruits with 1 tbsp of sugar and set aside
- Grind hazelnuts in a food processor and once roughly ground (under a minute) mix with flour, baking powder and salt in seperate bowl
- Beat sugar into the butter – easiest if you use a form of electric whisk
- Gradually add eggs to butter mix and then add in your flour hazelnut mix
- Pour batter into lined cake tin and place your fruit on top
- Bake for 70-80 minutes but cover cake with tin foil after half an hour to avoid it overly browning on top
Ottolenghi says this will keep for a day but I found it perfectly edible after three. In fact, I think the hazelnut flavour got richer over time, so if you do for whatever reason have some left after a day or two, don’t despair.