I was recently asked to prepare a cake to incorporate within an afternoon tea that included fresh fruit. Without hesitation I thought of the classic Apple Cake. Obviously great to make at this time of year when the apples are falling off the trees.
There are dozens of variations of Apple Cake and therefore dozens of names accordingly – German, American, Swedish, French, Norfolk, Dorset. All slightly different, some best served warm, some in slices, some dark and rich, some light and fluffy. Perhaps as I use local apples, I shall call my variation Merrow Apple Cake.
Catering for funeral receptions in particular, the cakes presented need not only to be attractive and of course delicious but also suitable to cut into bite size portions. This particular recipe is good for just that…
Firstly peel, core and very thinly slice 500g apples. Any apples will do, they just give a slightly different result – windfall cookers like Mr Greens will break down more and make more of a soft cake, the apples being almost like applesauce, but something like a Braeburn will keep its shape more. Up to you. Cover the fruit slices with the juice of half a fresh lemon to stop it browning and to give a tad more flavour and moisture. (Useful little thing those lemons!). Now for the cake, which could not be easier as everything can go into the bowl at once– using a wooden spoon or electric whisk (another useful little thing and my utensil of choice!) whisk together 225g butter, 275g of light muscovada sugar, 4 eggs, 2 teaspoons of good vanilla extract, 350g of sifted self raising flour and 2 teaspoons of sifted baking powder. Add a teaspoon of ground mixed spice if you like, but don’t forget the vanilla essence – it does make a difference.
Now spread half the creamy cake mixture into a greased and lined 30cm x 25 x 4cm cm baking tray. Gently arrange half the sliced apples on top. Then gently spoon the rest of the cake mix on top and then the rest of the sliced apples on top of the cake.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180’c/gas 4. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack.
I serve my cake dusted with icing sugar, but you could serve large slices or serve warm with ice cream or custard. Alternatives could be to add almond extract instead of vanilla and sprinkle the top with some flaked almonds before cooking or use the juice of an orange instead of a lemon for a slightly different flavour. Golden caster sugar instead of muscovada will give a paler cake. Perhaps add some other chopped mixed nuts into the mixture. How about blending some rich cream cheese or mascarpone with a little sifted icing sugar and top the cake or, yes please, drizzle with some caramel sauce. Or when in season add some blackberries to the apples – oh hold on that would not be Merrow Apple Cake, but I could give it another name, now let me think…..