Because I have hundreds of cookbooks kicking around the place making it look untidy I normally ignore the recipe cards in supermarkets, no matter how tempting they look. Last week though, someone was tweeting about a grape and almond cake they were making and it sounded good (or at least it made me think of the vineyard cake from Ottolenghi's Sweet book which is amazing). Then I saw the recipe card in Waitrose and decided to find out for sure.
It's really nothing like the Ottolenghi cake apart from both using grapes, but it's good, and the roast grapes on top were pleasingly posh looking (very Waitrose). The grape element also feels right for late autumn/early winter, it would be good at any time, but there's something about that icing and the squishy roasted grapes that make me think of the sugar plum fairy in the Nutcracker, as well as the last of the grape harvest.
Maybe it's the thought of the Nutcracker that's tempting me to I'm see what happens if I double the quantities and make it in a bundt tin (except I don't need enough cake for 20 at the moment). I think this would be a great cake for a biggish tea party.
Heat the oven to 160°C/gas 3, grease and line a 900g loaf tin, and cream together 175g of soft unsalted butter with 150g of caster sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 3 eggs, 1 at a time, and a few drops of almond extract. In a separate bowl combine 150g of self raising flour, 1/2 a teaspoon of fine salt and 100g of ground almonds. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones until combined, then stir in 200g of seedless Vitoria grapes (they're small and dark, small, seedless, and dark skins are all desirable here). Spoon into the tin, levelling the top, and bake for an hour to an hour and ten minutes, or until a skewer comes out clan.
Cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then transfer onto a wire rack. Once the cake is on the rack take another 75g of the grapes, cut them in half and put them in a small roasting tin along with 2 tablespoons of water. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, until soft but still holding their shape. Remove from the oven and lift the grapes onto a plate. Add another tablespoon of water to the tin and scrape up the grape juices. Start adding icing sugar, a little at a time, stirring well until you have a thick enough icing. Spoon over the cake and top with the toasted grapes. Cool completely before serving.
I took this to work the next day to try, where it disappeared quickly, but my guess is that it would keep well for a couple of days given the chance.