Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Caramelised apple cake

I love the British climate. I sometimes suspect that I may be alone in this. Friends, family, strangers seem to take great joy in grumbling about the weather - it is a very British trait. Just this weekend a great friend was lamenting the end of summer and wishing that she lived in somewhere where it was warm and sunny all year round. I don't. I love the changing seasons - the bright golden-tinted days of autumn are amongst my favourite especially when the sun shines but there is a slight chill in the air.

I could never live somewhere where it was hot all the time. When would I get my fill of rich, hearty casseroles? Sticky, syrupy steamed puddings? I'd hardly feel like them if I were permanently sauntering round in shorts and t-shirts. I love the edible treats that come with each season too and eating with the seasons is something about which I feel quite passionate. That isn't to say that I don't occasionally buy a punnet of strawberries in the depths of winter or that I only eat root vegetables in the winter. But, broadly speaking, I do like to save seasonal treats for times when they are... in season. And therefore tasting at their very best.

Autumnal apple cake

On the flip-side, eating with the seasons can mean that come the end of May I never want to see another stalk of asparagus or that mid-winter I'm sick to death of parsnips and longing for the light fresh greens of spring. Currently we're experiencing something of an apple glut. We have three apple trees in the garden and more apples than we ever dreamed we'd need. No point in putting them in boxes outside the front gate for passers by to take - all the neighbours are in the same boat and doing the same. It is not a complaint but I just can't bear to see good food go to waste and we don't really have much space to store them.

Over the past few weeks we've enjoyed apple and blackberry sponge, apple crumble, apple meringue, apple sauce and apple cake. We've also made chutney. A lot of chutney.

But there are still more apples. In fact, I'm sure that each time I pick them, more grow in their place when I turn my back.

Eager to get through the apples before we need to move onto the pears (ripening nicely and almost ready for picking), I'm still on the lookout for imaginative apple recipes. When shopping recently in Tesco, I was drawn to one of their recipe cards which depicted a gleaming cake topped with sticky apple slices. Resistance was futile and I returned that afternoon and set straight to work.

Our apples are of mysterious type. We've three species in the garden - they all seem to be eaters but when cooked they do pulp down nicely as cooking apples would do. This cake calls for Bramleys but I think you could use any mixture of apples. I used two types from the garden and it worked perfectly. *Tesco even taught me a great little tip for coring apples - so simple really - use a melon baller to scoop the core from halved apples. Worked brilliantly and much easier than using a knife. Very handy trick!

Easy way to core apples - use a melon baller!

This is the sort of cake that you could serve as pudding - at its best eaten warm from the oven with a dollop of ice-cream or custard. We enjoyed it this way the first night and warmed up slices on following evenings but it was very good cold too. It reminds me rather of a tarte tatin in cake form. Sticky and delicious. One word of warning - as the apples are full of juice, it is a very moist, damp cake and becomes more so with time. A fork is definitely required!

Caramelised Apple Cake


4-5 Bramley apples (or 800g other apples, unprepared weight)
Juice of half a lemon
275g soft light brown sugar
5 medium eggs
100g butter, melted
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (my addition - optional)
215g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease a 9 inch loose-bottomed or spring form cake tin and line base and sides with baking paper.

2. Peel, halve and core the apples. See the tip above*. Slice the apples into 1/2 cm slices. Coat with lemon juice and 50g of the sugar - mix with hands to ensure thoroughly coated - set to one side.

3. Scatter a further 50g sugar over the base of the tin and cover with a layer of apple slices. This will be the top of the cake so try overlapping them slightly in concentric circles so they will look pretty.

4. Beat eggs, melted butter, remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon (if using) and vanilla until combined.

5. Sift flour and baking powder over the mixture and then sprinkle over the ground almonds. Add remaining apple slices with the juices and gently fold together until combined (though be careful not to overmix).

6. Pour into tin over the layer of apples and bake for 50 minutes until the cake is risen and golden brown.Check after 30 minutes and if the top is already quite brown, cover with a layer of foil for remaining cooking time.

7. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before carefully turning out onto a serving plate so that the bottom is on top. Serve warm with ice-cream or custard.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

This cake is perfect for the season. I also think that it is a very human trait to grumble about the weather. Even here in Canada it is too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter, too rainy on the coast...you name it:D

Maria♥ said...

I'm the same, I would hate to live in a country where it's always hot. I love my seasons and Autumn is my fave. I have lots of cooking apples at the moment and this is the perfect cake to make. It look's so scrumptious!


Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

That does look good Antonia, I have loads of pears, so may try a pear version.

Nic said...

I have lived in a place where it was always hot, every day was sunny and there were no proper seasons. I do love the change in weather here and this apple cake is perfect for the autumn season.

Lucy said...

I'm also experiencing an apple glut! This looks like a totally gorgeous way to use up the never ending supplies - delish :)

Maggie said...

The apple cake is wonderful Antonia. I love cake that can be eaten for pudding as well.

Sam said...

Right now is my favourite time of year, I love all the orchard fruit that's in season now, especially apples which are probably my favourite fruit of all.

I love the apple cake, what a great way to use some of your apple glut.

Abitofafoodie said...

Val - I think you are probably right. Not just us Brits then!

Maria - I love Autumn and we've really had some incredibly beautiful weather over the past week or so, haven't we?

Helen - I think it would work just as well with pears. I have lots of pears too so shall perhaps try that version.

Nic - it really was the perfect autumn treat.

Lucy - we're still laden with apples and now the pears are ready too so I need to get on and use them up pronto!

Margaret - me too and there is definitely a difference between a teatime cake and a pudding cake!

Sam - apples are my favourite too.