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Oct 17, 2005 03:26 PM

Another report & photo of the Sir Gawain Cake

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As a novice cake baker, I've been wanting to try this ultra simple recipe for the longest time. Being in a non-sugar-eating household, I didn't get a chance until a friend's birthday came up a few weeks ago, and I volunteered to bring the cake to the party. The cake was a hit with everyone (actually there were 3 birthdays celebrated at the party, and my cake being the only homemade one might have been part of the reason).

I was worried about using out of season fruit, but the cake had a wonderful peachy plummy aroma as it baked, and even hours later when it was cool enough to pipe on melted chocolate lettering.

My only problem is that being inexperienced, I painstakingly laid the fruit in a pretty pattern, completely oblivious to the reality that the cake would rise over all the fruit and hide my precious work of art. I think some of the fruit even sunk, if that was possible (see edge of plum poking out at the 6 o'clock position in last photo). But in the end, after I piped the lettering on top I realized it looked more like a bday cake this way than if there was fruit all over the top.

I'm wondering, doesn't this cake, unlike galleygirl's pear tart, normally NOT rise over the fruit? It certainly rose a lot more than Carb Lover's 2 previous Sir Gawain Cake forays (the fig one and the just peaches one). My only guess is it's because I used an extra-large egg instead of the usual large size (I only had XL on hand). Otherwise, I followed Sir Gawain's recipe to a T, using regular sugar and whole milk.

Oh, I just remembered, I had the problem of my convection oven browning the edges too soon. I used a pie crust cover thingee to cover the edge for the remaining bake time. You can see the pie cover smooshed my cake a bit in the 3 o'clock position :-p.



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  1. That is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Now I've really got the motivation to make it myself and am glad to hear that even this time of year, the plums are still tasty enough.

    1. Thanks for the report and photo collage, Alice! Looks yummy and makes me want to modify the recipe and make an upside down apple cake soon! Even though the fruit isn't showing so much, your cake rose beautifully!

      Having made this cake about 4 times now, I'm also surprised that the batter enveloped and rose over the fruit so much. Doesn't look like you pressed the fruit down any further than I do. The photo below is my version w/ the same exact fruit...peaches and plums. While much of the flesh did get covered, the vibrant peels are still showing. I laid the fruit on the side as you did.

      I don't think it's the egg. I always use XL eggs in baking since that's all I have on hand. I often times don't have whole milk on hand so use a combo of 1 part half and half to 1 part water. I assume that you used a 9" pan vs. 8"?

      I would guess it has something to do w/ your oven. Every oven is different...mine is gas and does seem to evenly heat and brown my baked goods. No problem w/ the sides browning at a faster rate than the middle. FWIW, superfine sugar seems to enhance even browning for me and makes my baked goods look better than they ever have.


      5 Replies
      1. re: Carb Lover

        Both you and Alice, I just ate a 100 calorie diebetic nutrition bar and what do I come across, your cakes to torture me. My stomach is really growling at me now. Boy those look good.


        1. re: Chino Wayne

          Sadists indeed. I brought a vegetarian lunch and no sweets to snack on at work today. Sigh.

          They should be punished. Punished by being forced to take more delectable photos to share with us.

          1. re: nooodles

            Well, look who's calling me a sadist...the girl who tortured me w/ her vanilla cupcakes!!

            Alright, I accept my punishment and submit the below photo for your viewing pleasure. Rustic fig tart w/ a sour cream custard flavored w/ lemon zest and anise extract. It looks more interesting than it tastes, but oh well, it was a fun experiment. Not worth writing about, but that crust (meant for savory tarts) is a keeper!

            PS. I've come to accept that I just don't like Black Mission figs! It's a texture thing. Oh well...


          2. re: Chino Wayne

            I might take some itty bitty pleasure in teasing hounds w/ my photos; however, you are more of a masochist than I am a sadist if you comb through CH after eating a 100-calorie nutrition bar! Well, glad to know you're still plugging away and hopefully are allowed indulgences every now and then. Til we meet again in the torture chamber...

            1. re: Chino Wayne

              I'm afraid CL nailed you (and me) on this exchange CW. I have to admit to having a collection of her food porn that pops up on my monitor's wallpaper at the most inopportune times sending me into gastronomic fits of desire. But by all means Tran..... DON'T STOP!

          3. Very pretty photos. Although your careful fruit arrangement was covered up, the final cake has that perfect butter-kissed look.

            Last week I did Sir G's cake with cubed apples in a mold. It was really good and as easy as everybody said. Of course I had to complicate matters and cook down the apples a teensy bit with some apple cider vinegar before adding them to the batter. They ended up floating all around the baked cake, which was fine by me. Anyway, I enjoyed my first attempt at this recipe!


            4 Replies
            1. re: petradish

              That looks absolutely delicious! My kind of fruit cake. Love the mold too. My mom gave me a retro ring mold that she picked up at a garage sale that I'll have to try w/ this cake.

              Did the apples start at the bottom and then float around while baking? I was thinking of doing an upside apple cake using this recipe.

              Did the texture of the cake pair well w/ a sturdy fruit like apple? SG dubbed this a summer fruit cake, so I wasn't sure how it would translate to fall/winter fruits.

              1. re: Carb Lover

                Thanks, right back at you. I didn't grease & flour the mold as well as I should have-the outside was sort of rough looking and not as pretty as yours & Alice's. I know we used different style pans, but out of curiousity how did you prep yours?

                I mixed the apples into the batter and then poured the whole thing into the mold. Hmm, I think if you put the apples in first and then poured the batter over it would work for an upside down cake. That sounds pretty great actually.

                The apple cubes were quite soft from the initial cooking with vinegar, so once they baked into the cake they became slightly creamy against the soft cake, sort of like the bits of apple in a fritter. Hmm, I wonder how a glaze would taste on this since the cake itself isn't overly sweet.

                1. re: petradish

                  I prepped my springform by smearing a thin layer of butter all over and lightly coating w/ flour. The cake always releases easily and cleanly. A mold such as yours might make things a little more tricky though.

                  How much sugar did you use? I use 3/4 c. of superfine in the batter and 1-2 TB granulated on top of the fruit. For something like apples (especially since you used some vinegar), a glaze would be good and make it more dessert-like. I like how this cake can double for breakfast too.

                  I'm going to try an upside down apple cake very, very soon! Am thinking of softening the apples a bit in some butter and brandy first to get that creaminess that you described. Will sprinkle some brown sugar at the bottom of the pan too.

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    Think I'll follow your lead and grease with butter next time. Don't know why I reached for the veg. oil.

                    I went with the recipe's scant 1 cup of regular sugar and it seemed about right for how I tweaked the fruit. Will play around with less sugar and see how that goes sometime. I'm hung up on vinegar (and pickles-as other hounds seem to be judging from recent posts) at the moment and added some sour to the dessert to riff off a sauerkraut-based entree. And conversely added some apple juice to the kraut. Sorry, I'm rambling.

                    Hmmm, apples, brandy, and brown sugar should take the cake to the next level!

            2. Please, where and when did this recipe post?? This looks delicious and appears to be a cake even I can bake. Not good at cakes, unless they're bundts. Four course Classic French meal for eight - no problem. 5 course Chinese for 10? The same. Pies? A whiz. But cakes? Uh huh. I'd really like to have this recipe.


              2 Replies
              1. re: Deirdre

                It is linked in the OP just above you, but I'll link here for you.


              2. Hey, that cake looks great! You know what, sometimes mine rises more and sometimes less, I think it depends on how much fruit I use and how long I preheat the oven for. But I actually think that it's even better when the fruit sinks a bit, like yours did. And it looks beautiful! So what if the fruit is a bit submerged - you can still see the pattern.

                I'm just so delighted that even timid bakers are trying this. That was exactly the idea.