Jackfruit and Rosewater Cake – Really?!
I know this one is going to split the crowd in two. Half will be wearing huge grins and the other half will be pulling THAT face.
We all know that both durian and jackfruit, those magical mysteries of South East Asia, are a love or hate thing. But I’m here to set the record straight. Well, at least for the jackfruit. I’m still getting my head around the durian myself.
But jackfruit, aside from the obvious ‘rich’, ‘ripe’, ‘funky’ – (how do I describe that fragrance politely?) of the whole fruit in its shell. Once the fruit is taken out, it has an incredibly perfumed flesh with a great crunchy texture. Imagine it as the love child of a mango and an underripe nectarine.
So with that in mind, I set out to find this pungent and misunderstood fruit a new audience. It did take me four tries though. And after three adventures of ‘almost but not quite’, it all came together, and a new favourite was born.
- 100g Butter (softened)
- 125g caster suger
- 2 Eggs - large
- 60g All purpose flour
- 60g Almond meal
- 1 tsp Rose Water
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- 8 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 pieces of orange rind
- 1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
- 2. Lightly grease a 9” cake tin with a butter and cut a piece of baking paper to line the bottom of the tin.
- 3. Remove the seeds from the jackfruit pods and slice thinly, about 5mm thick. Lay these into the cake tin to line the bottom. This will become the top of the cake, so make it as pretty as you like.
- 4. Beat the butter with until it’s light and fluffy. Use a mixer for best results.
- 5. Mix in the sugar and continue mixing until the mixture is really light and fluffy.
- 6. Add in the almond meal and combine.
- 7. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in each one before adding the other.
- 8. Finish up with the rosewater and then flour, folding gently until the flour is incorporated and it all comes together. You don’t want to over work the flour.
- 9. Pour the mixture into your tin and spread evenly. This will be the bottom of the cake so it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth.
- 10. Into the oven for 30 mins, but (as all ovens are slightly different) start checking for done-ness at about 25 mins. If a skewer inserted near the centre comes out clean, or has a few crumbs attached, then it’s ready to come out of the oven.
- 11. Leave it until it’s completely cool before removing from the tin.
- 12. Add water, sugar and thyme, into a cold pan and place on the stove on a medium heat.
- 13. Squeeze the orange rind, skin side toward the pan, so the oil is released into the syrup.
- 14. Reduce by half and leave aside to cook and for flavours to develop.
- 15. When the cake is cool. Take it out of the tin with the fruit side up and spoon the syrup over the top.
- You can replace jackfruit with peach or mango or apricot if you prefer, or can't find jackfruit indoor part of the world. Anything with a flesh that's really fragrant but not too watery.
‘READ ON FOR PICS AND TIPS’
‘FOR THE FOOD NERDS’
Jackfruit definitely gets a bad rap for being one of the more ‘unfriendly’ fruits. Well, to western palates anyway. I’m not denying that it packs a punch in the funk department, but once you step outside of that, it’s all rainbows and unicorns. If you find one in your neighbourhood. Give this a try.
This cake is as simple as it gets. Simple ingredients, simple techniques, simple cooking. I even made this one with nothing but a wooden spoon and a bowl. Just because. But what you get in return is far from it.
- It’s all about the right moment of the fruit. if it’s under ripe, it won’t lend much flavour at all. If it’s overripe, it starts to brown and go sugary and a bit soggy. So do your best to catch the fruit at the right moment. You’ll know it because the smell is rich and dense, but still fresh, and there should be a crunch to the flesh, but not in a raw kind of way.
- The fruit should be cut in about 5mm slices so it has time to soften with the heat, any thicker and it doesn’t cook enough.
- I replaced half the flour with almond meal which keeps it more moist and rich. I tried increasing the almond meal in my first attempt and it was too wet even when properly cooked.
The almond meal will cause the cake to brown more than plain flour, but as the browned part is the bottom of the cake, it doesn’t really matter.
- The rosewater needs restraint to keep in balance with the jackfruit, so go with a bit of caution on that. Don’t be tempted to add a touch more.
- I used a thyme and orange oil syrup on this to finish it off. In hindsight I should have left the syrup longer for the flavours to develop more. But it served as a way to stop the fruit from drying out on the top over the day or two that it was being eaten.
Jackfruit can be hard to come by if you are not in this part of the world. But you have quite a few choices when it comes to substituting. I’d probably go with mango, or peach or apricot. Anything with a fragrant flesh that isn’t too wet. Too much moisture in the fruit will weigh down the almond meal and cause a collapse.