Sunday, 23 January 2011

Apple butter cake

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
2 eggs
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.



Brownieville Girl said...

demerara, demerara, demerara - I see what you mean!!!

Your cake looks perfect for one of those damp, grey days - good choise!

Caroline said...

It looks lovely to me - understated cakes are really appealing to eat, even though they don't give the same visual fireworks as mountains of frosting and decorations!

I love the idea of nutmeg in addition to cinnamon, really good twist. The unbaked batter really does look stiff and lumpy, I recall making a cake like that and being worried that it wouldn't turn out, but just like yours, it did!

trash said...

It is a given that buttercream is always yuk whatever one pairs it with but I have never heard of using it on apple cake! That truly is an horrific concept. Clotted cream is much the better bet.

I think I shall make this tomorrow while the terences are at school and earn mahoosive mummy points when they come home.

Baking Addict said...

What an amazing cake. I love apples in cake. Can't remember the last time I used demerara sugar. This is going to be my excuse :)

Katie said...

Looks delicious and I love big chunks of apple in my cake. I know what you mean about demerara, it sounds/types quite luxeriously.

Pleased it turned out delicious despite its initial bumpy appearance :)

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

It looks lovely!

But almost as importantly where did you get that fab plate?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Helen

The plate was a present from Mr CC. He got it from Magma, in Earlham St (Covent Garden)

Maggie said...

Apple cake is always a winner in my house. My husband loves it with Birds Custard!

Anonymous said...

am going to have to try to make this sometime, looks good!!! Nikki

Victoria said...

I cake is always...just....right! I make my mom's recipe....handed down from someone or other...totally yummy...but i slice my apples instead of chunking them...makes for like a solid apple LAYER... :)

Lucy said...

I think apple cake must be one of my favourite cakes - they're just so juicy and delicious! Shall have to give this one a go although I know it shall disappear very quickly :)

Cakelaw said...

This looks devine - my kind of cake.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I made this cake today and I know that you did definately warn us that its not like most cakes...but I still mildly freaked out about how the batter looked. I prepared myself for the worst, and then tadaa, a beautiful rustic cake appeared and everyone in my family LOVED it! I will never doubt you again! My husband is requesting another one to be made stat! Thank you caked crusader...your the BEST! <3 CupcakeQueen

Unknown said...

Is it just me and my (lack of) baking skills or is this a difficult one to get right?

I've done it twice now because it sounds lovely, and twice ended up with a load of uncooked stodge even after 40-45 minutes.

The first time may have messed up the weights ever so slightly, but the second followed the instructions word for word.

Very disappointing, was looking forward to tasting it :-(

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Andrew

Sorry you had a bad experience (twice). The fact that one of the other commenters successfully made the cake convinces me that the recipe is right.
I think the issue might be one of oven temperature - have you ever tested the accuracy of your oven?
Cooking times are purely a guidline - sometimes my oven will take almost half as much again of the recommended guideline time. Just keep the cake in the oven if it's not ready - it sounds like your oven might be slow.
Please try again and ignore cooking times and rely on your eyes.

I hope this hasn't put you off baking

Happy baking

Unknown said...

The oven definitely hits the correct temperature, I always keep a thermometer in the bottom to be able to keep an eye on things.

Must just be my mixing skills - perhaps not so wise for me to choose this one as a first ever attempt at cake baking!!!

If its any consolation, what did cook (about 1-1.5in around the outside) tasted great with the apple in there!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Andrew

I think if you just bake it for longer you'll be fine!

Happy baking