Last weekend it was my sweeties birthday and there was a request put in for birthday cake…..most years I make a chocolate cake but of late our oven has started playing up (we really need to get a new one) and about the only cakes that seem to come out nicely are slow baked light fruit ones or a Sunday apple cake…..
I’d also made some flapjacks the day before and had an open bag of ground almonds and thought to try a couple of spoonfuls in the apple cake (actually I just gave the bag a shake over the cake mixture and guessed what was going in)…other changes included using freshly ground mace blades and using all the apple in the cake rather than saving a little to slice and place on the top……the results very very good (almost exceedingly so if I wanted to pretend to be Englands most famous baker of cakes!)
Everyone agreed it was very light , more so than normally and it certainly felt moister when I was cutting it for driving home snacks the next day. The cake lasted a few more days as evening pudding (I’m not sure it even got to touch the sides of the beloved one’s mouth…one blink and the cake is gone)…..
I used ground mace as I wanted it to have a nice fresh citrusy taste and the mace compliments the lemon zest really well, though in the past I’ve used cinnamon and a little star anise……it’s always tricky for me to judge because I don’t actually like this cake (cooked apple makes me pull those faces children make when eating sprouts or broccoli) but it’s one of the sweeties all time favourites* so I’m always quite happy to make it for him.
*this gets picked more frequently than a chocolate cake so I guess it must be okay as he is a complete chocolate fiend!
Almond and Apple Cake
1 large cooking apple or 2 smaller ones. (You need about 225g of prepared apple)
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp of freshly ground mace
125g cold unsalted butter
125g caster sugar plus 1 extra tbsp
2 medium sized eggs
zest of a lemon
a couple of heaped tablespoons of ground almonds
Preheat your oven to gas 5, lightly butter a 20cm spring-form cake tin, put in a circle of baking parchment and then flour the sides.
Sift the flour, baking powder and ground mace into a large bowl. Try not to use too much of the spice as you want to be able to taste the apple.
Dice the unsalted butter into cubes and then rub it into the dry ingredients. It sort of looks like fattish breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar and the lemon peel. Peel and core your apple. Chop the apple up into small pieces and add them to the flour and butter. Lightly beat the two eggs and then stir this into the cake mix using a fork.
Spoon in to the prepared cake tin and gently level the surface with the back of the spoon.
Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes until springy to the touch. Test with a wooden cocktail stick to check that it is cooked inside. It is a moist cake so a little will stick but if you need to give it a little longer then it should be none the worse for it.
Allow to cool for a rack for a few minutes before easing around the sides with a metal palette knife. Open the tin and then gently ease the cake off the bottom section, again with the aid of the palette knife.
Sprinkle a little caster sugar over the top before serving.
Ideally this needs to cool for at least half an hour but if you are careful you should be able to cut it with a sharp knife after 15 minutes.
This cake is really simple, it’s quite old fashioned and is the sort of recipe that you can find hand written on butter stained writing paper and folded in cookery books in charity shops.
It’s a nice cake for Spring as the citrusy flavours of the lemon peel and ground mace are nice and uplifting.