The little hands harvest Kumquats

How to avoid too much of that evil word ‘screen time’. Not so easy these days. We are lucky to be able to walk in the fields around our house without breaking our ‘social distancing’ commitment. We are also lucky to have very friendly neighbours with lots of fruit trees in their garden. The only one left with an abundance of fresh fruit at this time of the year, was the mysterious Kumquat Tree. It produces little oval shaped orange citrus fruit, the perfect size for kids to harvest.

So we put on our little gum boots, washed our hands, took some buckets and started our exercise. The little toddler hands filled up a bucket in no time. And then another one and then another one. We split the harvest with our neighbours, but still it seemed like a Herculean task to use up all that fruit….

Now what to make with all these Kumquats? A little bit of research thaught me that the Kumquat originates in China, but is nowadays also a trademark fruit on the island of Corfu. There they make the famous Corfu liqueur from them. Surely delicious, but hey wine is our speciality 😉

So we settled for a super easy ‘Upside down’ Kumquat cake and preserved Kumquats with (local KEO) Brandy. My little sous chef grabbed a chair to stand on and together we started!

A morning and afternoon spent in harmony with nature and creation. Yet another day gone!

Upside Down Kumquat Cake

Ingredients

For the fruit layer:
3 tablespoons butter (45g), salted or unsalted
135g light brown sugar
Appr. half kilo, sliced into thirds, and seeds removed.

For the cake layer:
115g unsalted butter at room temperature
150gr granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
210g flour (I prefer whole meal)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
125ml whole milk, at room temperature

Method

Preheat oven to 190°C

In a 20-25 cm cast iron skillet or cake pan (not a springform pan), melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Cook, while stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and bubbles. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the cake batter.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.

Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the skillet or pan, cut side down. If you have two cut sides on a piece, place the largest end facing down. Work from the outside of the pan, creating a tight ring of fruit. Continue until you have covered the bottom of the pan.

Pour the batter on top of the fruit and spread it towards the sides. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Allow the pan to cool for 20 minutes.

To flip the cake, place a plate on top of the skillet or pan. Put on your oven mitts just in case some hot juices escape. Flip the cake over and it should pop right out.

(Original recipe: http://loveandduckfat.com/kumquat-upside-cake/)

Preserved Kumquats with brandy

1 kg kumquats
1 kg sugar
1 Liter water
2 Tbs brandy

Method

Use a small sharp knife to cut off the stem of the fruit and slice in 3-4 slices. Take out the pits with the tip of the knife (no need to stress over this, some pits will remain but will come out after the fruit is cooked).

Put sliced fruit, sugar and 8 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until fruit is cooked and looks translucent. Take pot off the heat and leave fruit in the syrup to cool completely. Remove kumquat slices with a slotted spoon and put in sterilized jars with the brandy.

Return pot with syrup on the stove, bring to boil and reduce for about 15 minutes. Cool syrup and pour into the jars until fruit is covered. Close jars and store in the fridge.

Delicious with vanilla ice cream or as topping for cheese cake.

(Original recipe: https://cuisinovia.com/2016/02/13/candied-kumquats-in-brandied-syrup/)

Marleen Zambartas
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