Our back-door neighbors gifted us a bag of jujubes last week. A jujube or Chinese apple (putsa in Thai) is a small green oval-shaped fruit. Inside, the flesh is white, lightly sweet, and crisp surrounding a small brown pit. I decided to bake them into a cake by adapting a recipe from Bon Appétit for German apple cake. I had made a German apple cake last week. I liked that recipe; it was easy and though it required time to prep (peeling and cutting apples) it was definitely delicious, and I was sure I could use jujubes instead of apples the second go-round. There were 13 jujubes in the bag and I only needed 6 for the cake. I cut and peeled them all up anyway. Now, to cut a jujube open takes some effort. I made a slice vertically all the way around the fruit, gave the two halves a firm twist (or two), and pulled them apart. Then I gouged out the pit and peeled the two halves. I tossed the jujube halves in a sugar-spice mixture so that I didn’t need to glaze them after baking.
Jujube Cake (adapted from Bon Appétit)
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup plain fine breadcrumbs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons apricot preserves
6 fresh green jujubes, cut in half, peeled, and seeded
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
A dash each nutmeg, ginger powder, allspice powder, clove powder
Unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)
Preheat oven 350˚F/175˚C.
Butter one 9 inch round springform pan. Sprinkle bottom and sides with breadcrumbs and tap out the excess. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, place the cut jujubes and toss with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup flour. Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg, vanilla, and butter. Using a fork, combine the ingredients to form a sticky ball. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly to the edges of the dish. Spread apricot preserves on the surface with an offset spatula.
Take a jujube half from the bowl and carefully make crosswise cuts in the rounded end of the fruit, just like hasselback potatoes. Don’t cut all the way through. If there is any juice in the bowl, discard. Continue making cuts in the remaining jujube halves. Starting about ¼ inch from the edge lightly press a cut jujube half in the surface of the dough. Continue filling in the spaces, sometimes cutting the jujube half to fit, as pictured.
Bake 55-60 minutes rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing into squares. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.