My plan for today was to tell you about the most delicious veal ragù I’d made but I’m afraid it was disappointing and I can’t quite work out what went wrong. I guess you win some and you lose some. I won’t give up though and when I get it right, I will let you know. Meanwhile, there’s my trusty old favourite ragù which I wrote about here.
So instead I want to tell you about an apple cake recipe I’ve recently fallen in love with. Forgive me for giving you another apple cake recipe but this one is too good to ignore. You probably aren’t surprised though, because I believe I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I love apple cake.
There’s something about the slightly caramel flavour of this one that reminds me of the plum torte I wrote about here; the soft brown sugar is probably responsible. I came across the recipe on the Spectator website.
Spiced Apple Cake
1 large cooking apple
1 eating apple
200g unsalted butter, melted (by placing it in a bowl on top of the Aga at the back)
225g light brown sugar
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
(Pre-heat conventional oven to 160ºC)
Lightly grease and line a 9″/23cm cake tin with bake-o-glide
Place the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and rub between your fingers to get rid of any lumps in the sugar
Briefly whisk the eggs in a small bowl using a fork and then add them and the melted butter to the dry ingredients, quickly mixing the whole lot together with a spatula
Peel and core the apples and cut each into 12 wedges
Pour three quarters of the mixture into your prepared tin and arrange the apple slices in a circle, alternating cooking and eating apples and starting from the outside. Place any spare segments in the centre of the circle
Spoon the rest of the mixture into the middle of the cake and don’t try to spread it to the sides. Sprinkle over the caster sugar
Bake in the baking oven, or whichever oven you use for cakes, for about 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and taught. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes
Can be served warm or cold. I love serving any apple cake with whipped cream, but it’s up to you.
In this post a year ago I mentioned my Norwegian grandmother’s apple cake. It has become a Hardy family tradition to have it on Christmas Eve, but that doesn’t stop us having it at other times of the year. I have vivid memories of evening coffee time at my grandparents’ house in Oslo when cake would often be served.
I made the Norwegian apple cake this weekend for second son’s birthday. It’s not a typical birthday cake but I don’t think that matters. We managed to get his brothers to come along and gathered in London for tea and cake which we consumed while watching the England v Wales Six Nations rugby match.
I don’t think my grandmother, who is no longer with us, would mind if I gave you the recipe. It’s extremely easy to make. You can keep it just as it is, or add cinnamon to the apples or sprinkle some flaked almonds over it, or both.
Norwegian Apple Cake
You will need a 20cm/8″ springform cake tin, greased and base-lined with greaseproof paper or bake-o-glide.
Conventional oven: pre-heat to 160º-170ºC
4 Bramley apples
125g plus 1 tbsp caster sugar
125g butter, softened
240g self-raising flour
1 large egg
Peel, core and slice the apples and place the slices in a bowl with the juice of a lemon to stop them going brown. Add the tablespoon of sugar
Place the apples in a saucepan with a little water, let’s say 3mm deep. Cook them for a minutes on the Aga simmering plate or your hob, giving them the occasional stir with a wooden spoon. When they’re all soft, remove from the heat and leave to cool
Make your cake batter by placing the sugar, butter, flour and egg in a bowl and beating the mixture. I use my electric mixer
Press two thirds of this mixture into the base of your prepared tin
Then spoon the stewed apples over this but not right up to the edge. If you feel you have too much apple mixture (after all, Bramleys vary in size) save some (freeze it if necessary) to have with roast pork at a later date
On a floured surface very gently roll out the remaining third of the batter and then cut it into strips about 1.5cms wide
Arrange these strips in a lattice pattern over your cake. You don’t have to make a complicated over and under pattern. The dough is very soft and the strips might break as you pick them up. Don’t worry: you can just patch them together as you place them. As you can see from the photos, mine does not look remotely professional
Bake your cake until golden brown. You can’t test it because of the apples. I find it usually takes between 35 and 45 minutes. I start checking it at about 25.
You can serve it warm (but not piping hot) or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. I’m not a cream person but this cake really is best served with a dollop of lightly whipped cream.
I hope it’s still correct to say apples are in season, because it’s already a couple of weeks since I made this apple cake with autumn in mind and only now am I getting round to writing about it. On the other hand, it’s not exactly a seasonal cake because we all cook with apples throughout the year and to make this cake I bought Bramley apples from the supermarket.
Regular readers will remember that I like making apple cakes and prefer them to pies and crumbles, partly because they work both as puddings (with whipped cream, say) and as teatime cakes.
You can’t have two many apple cake recipes in your repertoire, in my view, and I’m happy to add this Delia recipe to mine. The lazy baker in me particularly appreciated the fact that peeling the Bramleys is optional. That was a no brainer: I didn’t peel them.
To make the job even simpler I used the all-in-one method to mix all the ingredients together before folding in the apples and orange zest.
225g self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Bramley apples
175g soft light brown sugar
2 large eggs
75g butter, softened
Grated zest of an orange
1 tbsp milk (if needed)
A little icing sugar
Conventional oven: pre-heat to 180ºC
Grease and base-line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into your mixing bowl and add the butter, sugar and eggs
Beat until thoroughly blended. I used my KitchenAid. You could use an electric hand whisk
Chop the apples into small dice (with or without peel, remember) and fold into the mixture with the orange zest. Add a little milk if the mixture seems dry
Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin
Bake in the baking oven of your Aga (or in the centre of a conventional oven at 180ºC) for about 1 hour, but do check on it every 10 minutes or so after the first half hour. I put a piece of greaseproof paper loosely on top at this point because my cake was looking a little dark
The cake is done when it feels springy to touch and is starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so before turning out onto a rack
Just out of the oven and cooling before winging its way to the birthday boy in London.
I have made A LOT of apple cakes in my time. Personally, I’d rather eat apple cake than crumble or pie. It’s more versatile for a start, because it works well as a pudding and as a teatime cake. My sons tease me about how I make a distinction between cakes that work as puddings and those that don’t.
The apple cake I made this morning is for my son W, who turns 26 tomorrow. I remember lying on the maternity ward after he was born on 11 February 1990, watching Nelson Mandela walk to freedom on my neighbour’s tiny televison set. But I digress.
Sadly, I will not be seeing W on his birthday this time. I’m staying in Bristol to keep an eye on Granny. But it’s fine, because we’re all getting together very soon. His dad took the cake up to London with him this afternoon.
I discussed what cake W might like with his brother G, and we agreed apple cake was probably his favourite, and it didn’t matter that it’s perhaps not very birthday cake-y. I decided to make this one.
We also love my Norwegian grandmother’s apple cake, which we eat all year round but ALWAYS on Christmas Eve; it’s tradition. Perhaps I’ll let you have that recipe another time.
W has just been in touch to say they had some cake tonight because they’ll be at work tomorrow and eating out in the evening. Any excuse! Anyway, I hadn’t realised W hadn’t tried this particular apple cake before. He says he loved it, especially the cardamom. I’m glad they ate some today when it was at its freshest. No-one wants to eat stale cake.
Mamma Moore’s Apple Cake
Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm/9″ springform cake tin
225g self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of ground cardamom seeds (I grind them in a pestle and mortar)
A grating of fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
100g cold butter, cut into small cubes
450g cooking apples
a little lemon juice
100g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
50g demerara sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Sift flour, bicarb, salt and spices into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
Peel the apples and cut into small, thin pieces. Toss them in lemon juice as you go, to keep them from browning
Mix the apples, caster sugar and eggs into the butter/flour mixture and gently fold through until everything is thoroughly mixed
Turn into your cake tin and level off the top
Mix the Demerara and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter
With the rack on the third set of rungs, bake in the baking oven for about 35 minutes. Test with a skewer
Leave in the tin to cool a little before turning out
Delicious served hot or warm with whipped or clotted cream