Apple cake holds a special place in my cakey affections – it’s just the most perfect of flavour and texture combinations ; the sweet, yet still pleasingly tart, soft apple teamed with crumbly sponge. This one has the added joy of subtle warming spices – perfect to cheer up a cup of tea!
Often apple cake is paired with buttercream and – don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! – but this time I wanted something simple and crumbly. This recipe fit the bill particularly because it uses Demerara sugar, which always gives a delightful crunch to a batter. Incidentally, and this may sound nerdy, but “Demerara” is one of my all time favourite words to type. If you do it quickly and smoothly it almost feels like music under your fingertips!
The apple is chopped up and distributed through the cake so that each bite bursts with flavour. It also keeps well....not that it’s a major problem! Here is my apple, skilfully peeled and chopped by Mr CC; it’s nice to leave the apple quite chunky as then you get a lovely textural contrast with the cake:
One thing to stress about this cake is that it’s a very ugly batter; Mr CC entered the fray to placate me as he now recognises my unhappy wail (i.e. muttering, mild swearing and blackening the name of whoever wrote the recipe) when I think a recipe’s gone wrong! Much as I knew the apple would release juice during cooking and that the batter would be drier to accommodate it, I wasn’t expecting this:
Look at it! The batter is so firm that it was an effort stirring the apple into it...even Mr CC with his rippling manliness struggled. It also looked like there was way too much apple for the cake. After about the first 20 minutes of baking it still looked like scone batter with random bits of apple dotted on it. Then, the Miracle of the Oven occurred and the batter yielded and blended with the apple to make a rather fine cake! I suppose what I’m trying to say is.....
.... I don’t want to hear any muttering, mild swearing, or blackening my name if you make this cake because I have warned you that – until it comes out of the oven – this ain’t gonna be no beauty!
Apologies that the photos aren’t great this week – it was a dull, damp day; the sort of day it never feels like it actually gets light. I had to rely on flash to get any photos at all.
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
170g Demerara sugar, plus an extra 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on top
335g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 apples, chopped fairly roughly – use eating apples rather than cooking apples; I used 2 pink ladies and 1 granny smith
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
Line a 20cm round springform tin with baking paper.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light– don’t skimp on this stage; while the mix will never get pale and fluffy with a granular sugar such as Demerara it will turn noticeably lighter in colour and texture.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time
Fold in the flour, baking powder and spices.
Stir in the chopped apples; please don’t panic that the batter is stiff and it’s hard work to get the apples into it. This is necessary to ensure that, when the apples release their juice during cooking, the cake doesn’t become soggy.
Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Sprinkle over the additional tablespoons of Demerara sugar.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Mine took longer at 40 minutes but I was baking two at the same time.
Place the cake, still in its tin, on a wire rack and remove the tin as soon as it’s cool enough to handle.
Leave to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Serve in generous slices, with a steaming mug of tea!
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.