Never too old for birthday cake

One of the best things about birthdays is celebrating them. I used to work with a great bunch of women – all of a certain age – and birthdays were always celebrated with some style. A cake would be brought in – some rather wonderful creation, wether  home made or purchased from a fabulous bakery. Morning tea served with appropriate ceremony: plates and napkins, tea and coffee pots, flowers and candles on the cake. We always made time for this little ritual irrespective of how busy or frantic our day was. And of course there was a present. Great thought would be put into this gift – invariably something somewhat indulgent. All unnecessary but very much appreciated. It marked a sense of occasion.

This year, having moved from Sydney I found myself having no-one to play with on my birthday and no celebratory feasts organised and realised how much I missed the birthday cake, the bestowing of warm wishes and gifts. It doesn’t matter how old you are or even if you don’t (generally) eat cake. The birthday cake is always a treat and a gesture of friendship and love.

So having missed out on cake (and presents) I decided to treat myself and make my own birthday cake: apple and blueberry with ground almonds and a sticky flaked almond topping. It ticks all the boxes – even the (almost) healthy one.
It’s easy to make and is quite a stunning looking cake. Just right for someone’s birthday.
Apple Blueberry cake
Apple blueberry and almond cake
125g butter, softened
125g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
100g (3/4 cup) self-raising flour
50ml milk
125g ground almonds
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 punnet (125g) blueberries

Topping
125g butter, melted
2 eggs
125g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
50g flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180C.  Grease the base of a 20cm spring-form cake tin.  Beat butter, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy then gradually beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add a little sifted flour if the mixture looks as if it might separate.  Lightly fold in remaining flour, milk and half the almonds until combined.  Spread into the base of the cake tin.  Sprinkle with remaining ground almonds then top with apples and blueberries.

To make topping, put melted butter in a bowl and whisk in eggs, sugar and cinnamon. Pour over cake.  Sprinkle with flaked almonds.  Bake for about 60 minutes; when ready it should be firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.  Cool completely in the tin before turning out.  Dust with  little icing sugar to serve.