Have you ever eaten physalis before? You've probably seen it as a garnish on a dessert - I once had a heated debate with a work colleague who was more than ten years my junior, who had never seen one before and insisted I was making up the name until I googled it on my phone. However, I'd never actually tried the fruit - I'm pretty fussy and mistrustful of food I haven't had before so when I have had it as a garnish on a dessert in a restaurant, I've picked it off!
When I saw a whole bag of physalis in the supermarket for only £1 I decided to try it, but rather than use the fruit as a garnish I decided I wanted it to take centre stage - and that I would incorporate it into a cake.
The fruit resembles mini orange tomatoes and they come encased in tall, papery leaves. It has a sweet yet slightly tart taste; it's also known as a cape gooseberry, but doesn't taste like a gooseberry; in the US it is sold under the name Pichuberry (which sounds like something out of Pokemon to me), due to the origins of one variety in Machu Pichu.
I was going to use a recipe I found online, but hit a few stumbling blocks. As regular readers will know, my boyfriend and I are staying with his mum for a few weeks until the purchase of our new houes goes through (we completed on the sale of my house already due to pressure from the buyer). As I started to get out my baking ingredients, I asked if I could borrow her loaf tin and found she didn't have one. I also looked for brown sugar and could only find golden caster sugar; the recipe I found online used grapes as well as physalis and I don't like grapes. So in the end I pretty much invented my own recipe - but if you want to halve the quantity and use a loaf tin, be my guest.
Physalis Yogurt Cake - an original recipe by Caroline Makes
250g golden caster sugar
250g self-raising flour plus a sprinkling for the fruit
3 tbsp low fat Greek-style yogurt or fromage frais
a large handful of physalis, chopped (leaves removed). Reserve a few whole ones (with leaves) for decoration.
For the frosting
100g cream cheese
200g icing sugar
Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and line either a loaf tin or, for my method, a square cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs. Fold in the flour then mix in the yogurt. Toss the physalis in a little flour (this prevents it from sinking in the cake) and gently stir in to the cake mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting - carefully mix the cream cheese with the icing sugar. If you've made the cake in a loaf tin, slice it through the middle; if you've made it in a square tin as I had to, slice the cake in half and place one half on top of the other. This means one side of the cake will be the 'cut' side but I actually think this looks quite nice. Spread 2/3 of the cream cheese frosting inside the cake and the other 1/3 on top and decorate with a few physalis.
I'm sending this to Alphabakes, the blog challenge I co-host with Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker. The letter I have chosen this month is P so physalis is my Alphabakes ingredient.
I'm also sending this to Simple and In Season, hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary on behalf of Ren Behan.
I'm also sending this to the Vegetable Palette, hosted by Shaheen at Allotment2Kitchen. This challenge chooses a different colour for fruit or vegetables each month and this time it's yellow and orange.