An absolute gem of a cake this one, I often fall back on this recipe if I need to bake a gift or take in something to share to my office.
I have a condition (won’t bore you with the details) that means sometimes I cannot sleep as it gets a bit ouchy. I can frequently be found in my kitchen very early doors, baking, as what on earth else do you do at 5 am without waking everyone else up. This last iteration of this cake was made just this morning for that reason – up and about early and better off being active. If the pain wakes me I do usually bake, or I might do some yoga. Or yoga while waiting for the bake in the oven. Or just yoga while eating cake. Or if I’m really knackered, in pain and fed up with it all, standing in front of the fridge drinking milk from the bottle (sorry family) and mainlining that cake.
I have also used this as a base recipe and adapted it according to what flavours I want or what fruit I have to hand – pears, peaches, raspberries, oranges etc. But I’ve made this particular spiced apple version many times, so much so it’s actually lodged in my head and I don’t need to refer to my recipe notes. It’s easy, has a great flavour and is generally rather lovely – so I thought I’d jot it down and share in its own right.
Typically for me it’s also on the small side. If you’ve read any my profile page or other blog posts you know that while I love to bake I am conscientious about trying to maintain healthy family eating overall. Often my bakes are in small batches so they are a small treat rather than a regular calorific, sugary indulgence. A little of what you fancy… as the saying goes.
I also made this cake, this time in a panibois (a reusable wooden baking form, which takes disposable/recyclable paper inserts). There are many online baking suppliers that sell these. You can make this in any small cake tin instead though – equivalent to about a 15 cm / 6″ round tin.
Also for this cake I normally ignore my electric hand mixer/stand mixer and do it all by wooden spoon. Honestly. It literally takes about 10 minutes to prepare and be ready for the oven, but you can easily choose to use your gadgets if you prefer. (Also turning the mixer on at 5am would be a bit rude by me).
- Panibois wood form and one paper insert – or a prepped/lined 15cm round cake tin
- Knife (and apple corer if you have one)
- Large bowl
- Wooden spoon and balloon whisk – or alternatively you can use a hand electric whisk or stand mixer
- small bowl with water and a drizzle of lemon juice (just to keep the apples from discolouring only)
- Eggs, large – two
- Plain flour – 180g
- Baking powder – 1 3/4 tsp
- Golden caster sugar – 170g
- Unsalted butter – 170g (or 50:50 butter and margarine, but never just all margarine!)
- Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
- Ground allspice – 1/2 tsp
- Calvados or cider – 1 tablespoon
- Squeeze of maple syrup (about 2 tspns)
- Small tart apples, 2 – 3 – I used Cox, but any equivalent would do. James Grieve variety would be ideal if you could get hold of them
- For the topping:
- Demerara sugar – about 2 tablespoons
- Flaked almonds – a “handful” (that’s about 50g)
- Put the oven on to 180 C fan / 190 conventional
- Core the apples (whether you peel them is up to your preference). Slice half of one apple for the top
- Cut up the rest of the apples into medium diced cubes
- Pop all the apples into the lemon water to stop them going a nasty brown/oxidising until needed
- Make sure the butter is at room temperature and easy to beat, but not at all runny (this would alter the cake and cause it to fail as a bake)
- Weigh out the butter and the sugar in the same bowl and beat together until incorporated and smooth
- Dry the apple
- Add in the spices, half the butter and one egg and beat
- When that’s mixed nicely, add in the rest of the flour, the last egg and the calvados or cider and the diced apple (reserve the slices for the top)
- Tip this mix into the panibois paper or your prepped cake tin and smooth over
- Arrange the sliced apple on the top of the cake mix, then sprinkle over the demerara and then the sliced almonds
- Bake for 40 mins in the middle of the oven, but I test the cake with a skewer after 35
- Can be served warm as a dessert with toffee sauce or ice cream (Mmmm!), as well as leaving to cool and slicing up as a delicious cake