Saturday, 31 May 2008

Men and Cinnamon

Ever wanted to have powers akin to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and have the power to lure any man? Or maybe you were thinking of a way to spice up your relationship?

[Don't worry, I'm not giving relationship advice as part of the "new direction" for my blog. I've given up trying to do a makeover for my blog. I think I'll just blog about whatever I fancy! ;-) Of course food-related topics will always be the focus.]

I read somewhere that the scent of cinnamon is a sure way to attract men. Apparently, it’s an aphrodisiac. It’s supposed to be more potent than vanilla or chocolate. I am always skeptical about such claims, so I decided to test this out in an experiment in February:

(Scene: Quikong walks into the house:)

Q: “Hmmm… I smell cinnamon buns!”
N: :Nope”
Q: “Chelsea buns?”
N: “Nope”
Q: “Walnut scrolls?”
N: “Nope. I made something easy. Go have a look, it’s still in the oven.”
Q: “Yumm…. When will it be ready?”

It worked! But his attraction was to the cake. Never come between a man and his stomach (or his beer, as Quikong would say). :-)

We are well and truly into autumn in Sydney and tomorrow it will "officially" be winter. No stone fruits to be found at my grocer... sob! sob! It’s very much “new season” apples, pears and mandarins everywhere. I even spotted persimmons. But I am still grieving the end of the season for stone fruits – I love nectarines, peaches, apricots, and especially cherries.

These fruits were always very expensive when I was growing up in Singapore. So when I can get a tray (25 pcs) of juicy, sweet nectarines for only $8.99 at the local farmer’s market in summer, I do not hesitate to grab one or two if Quikong lets me. (“Are you sure that you will be able to eat all those fruits? You’re like a kid in a candy store…”).

This post has been sitting as a "daft" since late February while I was suffering a blog block. I figured that I may as well post it since somewhere in the world it must be stone fruit season. :-)

Easy Cinnamon Nectarine Cake
adapted from Bon Appétit, August 2005

This can also be made with fresh stone fruits like white nectarines, peaches and plums. It’s possible to use canned fruits, but of course the results will be different. Drain the fruits well and adjust the amount of sugar-cinnamon topping.

The wonderful smell of cinnamon permeates through the house while the cake is baking and when it's cooling out of the oven. Even our neighbours could smell it - it's a sure way to get knocks on the door. And I was more than happy to give some cake away because it was hard to eat just one slice. So very moreish!

This cake is “easy” because it is really is fool-proof, yet looks impressive. No careful folding required, just use a hand-held electric mixer throughout the recipe.

Makes 8 servings (or 4 in our case)

1/2 cup (113g) butter, slightly softened (or room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour

5 medium nectarines (about 1 3/4 pounds), halved, each half cut into 4 slices
2-3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Butter & line a 9-inch-diameter springform pan.

Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl until creamy and fluffy. Add 3/4 cup sugar and beat until sugar is well-blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice and vanilla essence. Beat in flour (be careful here, I got some on my clothes) until incorporated (smooth) but do not over mix it. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. The mixture will be thick.

Arrange enough nectarine slices atop batter in concentric circles to cover completely; press lightly to adhere. Mix cinnamon and 2-3 tablespoons of caster sugar (depending on how sweet/tart your fruits are) in small bowl. Sprinkle over cake (I used a mini-sieve to get an even spread).

Bake until cake is golden brown and, about 1 hour (50 minutes for plums or smaller fruits). Cut around cake to loosen; remove pan sides. Serve cake slightly warm or at room temperature. Plain, with ice cream or whipped cream.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Thanks, Nora -- in a few weeks we'll be able to get great nectarines here, and as they are my absolute favorite stone fruit, I want to be ready with some new recipes!

Bellini Valli said...

We are still expecting strawberries here in the Okanagan, then cherries, then stone fruit...I love nectarines the most so can't wait. By the way, glad to have you back. School is DONE!!!!!!!

Nora B. said...

Hi Lydia, you're most welcome!


Hi Val, yeah school is done!! :-)

We seem to have strawberries almost all year round, but of course the size and prices varies. But stone fruits are definitely seasonal here.

KJ said...

oooh this looks delicious. I am with you summer and early autumn is heaven with all the stone fruits on offer. I gorge myself on peaches, plums, nectarines and cherries. Now there is nothing but boring old apples and oranges. Sigh!!!

winedeb said...

Wow, check out the new look! Very nice and simple! I am very into simple these days! Picked up my first nectarine of the season just the other day!

katiez said...

Stone fruit season is just beginning. I'll eat 2 or 3 a day all summer - lots of the little plums. The first white nectarines were in the market on Friday....
Thanks for thinking of us.
But, apples would be good...

Nora B. said...

KJ - I though apples were boring too till I went to an apple farm last weekend. new season apples just off the tree tastes sooo much better. Of course it doesn't compare to stone fruits, in my mind :-)


Deb, simple is always good. I didn't plan this "new look", I just happen to be fooling around with the templates. I might change it again :-)


Katie, oooh don't mention that to me. I miss plums, nectarines...

Y said...

Nothing like cinnamon in the oven, is there? My boy is a bit of a cinnaMan too :-D

kathryn said...

Beautiful cake Nora. And I do like a "foolproof" recipe. Not sure about cinnamon as an aphrodisiac, but it is a wonderful, wonderful smell. I can imagine this with plums as well. Sigh, I'm missing stone fruit as well.

Eva said...

Hey, you didn't even mention to me that you blogged again and you did change your blog quite a bit! I'm curious to see whatelse is going to happen around here!
As for the cake, I just LOVE cinnamon, however, Tobi's not too fond of it so it's definitely no aphrodisiac for him (but for me all the more so!).

PS: I certainly didn't eat enough stone fruit this year but luckily managed to freeze some that are halfway gone, already...

Kevin said...

I certainly like cinnamon and that nectarine and cinnamon cake looks and sounds really good! I tend to get to much at the farmers market as well and then scramble to finish it before it goes bad later in the week.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

What a lovely cake! I imagine it would be tremendous with plums, too.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Mmmm... Sounds wonderful and who could resist the smell of cinnamon cooking?

Patricia Scarpin said...

That is a great looking cake, Nora - and I never knew that about cinnamon, that's funny!

bee said...

i like cinnamon only in savoury dishes, but this cake is beautiful!!!

Gloria said...

Look beautiful Nora!! really nice dear, Gloria

Antonia said...

We have nearly reached stone fruit season here, so this will certainly come in handy! Looks delicious and I love the new look to the blog by the way.

Stella (Sweet Temptations) said...

YUM- this cake has seduced me! COMPLETELY!

Brilynn said...

That cake looks fabulous, the scent of cinnamon could lure anyone in!

Shaun said...

Nora B. ~ Of course I had to keep reading when I saw the title of your post! I can believe that cinnamon + heat is more powerful than either chocolate or vanilla as an aphrodisiac. It is spicy, earthy, sweet and heady all at the same time. It is such a transporting spice, great in both sweet and savoury goods. I love this cake! Hopefully you will still be able to find some late autumn plums. They seem to be the last of stone fruits available here.

Susan said...

This is perfect for our summer days to come. (Sorry, but we are just about to go into serious stone-fruit season.) Nora, you are spot-on about cinnamon's lure on men. It is an enchanting aroma that fills the home.

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Nora, beautiful cake and post... yes, there are stone fruits in season here... Marissa enjoying her first cherries... finally she can eat them herself without chocking :) I bought also some new type of peaches recently, I will post about it shortly. I'm just seating here still retouching, it is after midnight and I have few more iamges to do... I just saw your comment arriving with my right eye while I was retouching with the left one ;)
Have a nice day, Margot