Wahey it’s spring! Out and about by the river in South West London you can practically feel people slewing off the stresses of the long, cold winter. It took a lot of energy constantly being scrunched up against the cold and I was getting sick of wearing woolly socks. So yesterday we went cycling, shared a ploughmans and drank cider. Short of wearing tweed, I could have been back in the Cornish countryside (yup, that’s what we all do back in Cornwall – no word of a lie there).
Anyway, continuing with the apple theme, I wanted to bake and share this recipe for apple cake. I know apples are typically associated with autumn, but this is actually a classic and failsafe recipe from my mum that is easy to bake, affordable and worth the effort – friends love it. The cake has this beautiful, buttery soft texture and a light tang if you use tart Bramley cooking apples. Serve it warm with clotted cream (as above) for a pudding-experience, otherwise it keeps and slices very happily as a regular cake.
1 lb/450g finely-chopped cooking apples (see step one, below)
juice of 1 lemon
12 oz/350g self-raising flour
8 oz/225g cold butter
8 oz/225g golden caster sugar
1 and a half tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
You’ll need an 8 inch/20 cm deep cake tin with the base lined.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4.
Prepare the apple
The trick to this cake is to chop the apple evenly into little cubes, much like you would dice an onion. Yes, it’s a bit time-consuming, but it’s worth it. If you chop them up too fine, you lose those little tangy bursts of apple throughout the finished cake. Too big and it’s not so cakey.
Anyway, I chop up the apple, adding it to my scales until I get to 1 lb (450g) of apple cubes. As I go, I toss the cubes in the lemon juice, to stop them all browning. This also adds to the flavour of the finished cake.
Rub the fat into the flour
Much like making pastry, sift the flour into a roomy bowl, add the cold cubed butter and rub it in with your fingertips. Once it reaches the consistency below, fold through the caster sugar (it’s also nice to use a mixture of caster and light brown sugar) and ground cinnamon.
Mix together and bake
Next, fold through the lightly beaten egg and the apple cubes. Pop into the tin and bake for around 1 and a half to 2 hours. I would check it after 1 hour 15 to see how it’s doing. A skewer should come out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack or serve warm – just be warned that it is more crumbly and difficult to slice when it’s warm (but worth it).
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