Let’s talk apples, because it is apple season. Or more precisely, let’s bake with apples and then eat the tender, sweet goodness. Because I would much rather eat an apple cake than eat a fresh apple.
I have a small stash of granny smiths in my laundry cupboard at the moment, from dad’s trees. You may think that is a strange place to store apples, until I tell you that it is the coolest part of the house right now; now that it is winter in Hobart and on some days the temperature doesn’t even reach double figures, so the heating is on to stay. Besides, it is nice opening the cupboard door for the peg basket or a new roll of toilet paper and seeing the bright green orbs of appleness, and inhaling their tangy sharpness.
I haven’t yet made a pie, or its rustic, more forgiving cousin, a free-form galette. But I have made an apple bread and butter pudding. Would you ever think to tuck tart slices of granny smith apples into your B&B pudding? I hadn’t either until I tried it at mum’s. I came home and made it myself, with fragrant, sultana-studded slices of panettone (squirreled away into the freezer at Christmas time) and a smear or two of apricot jam. The contrast between rich, squidgy custard and the apple, still a little firm to the bite, and still a little tart, was morish. Good thing I had made a generous dish–full. And while I’ve certainly been creative with B&B puddings in the past, adding lots of jam or liqueur or roasted fruit, I’d never thought to use fresh apples. It’s good to learn a new trick.
But it’s also good to make an old favourite, and this country-style apple cake appears at least once every apple season. I usually make one single round cake, which can be fairly impressive to behold, but this time I wanted to share some with my friend C, so cupcakes it was (plus, wasn’t one of my culinary resolutions this year to use up my stash of cupcake papers?)
Apart from the apple slices on top, the cake itself is fairly plain, just a smidgeon of spice to round out the flavour; barely there. I especially like these when they are warm, with a little curve of vanilla ice cream adorning the partially-submerged apple slices; or perhaps a pillowy spoonful of thick cream. Gosh, why would I want to eat an apple au naturale when it is so enticing in a cake?
Country-style apple cake
Adapted from an undated ‘Successful Baking’ recipe card. The recipe specified a 20 cm round tin; for that option, halve the apple slices instead of quartering them, and bake for about an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 180 and prep some muffin tins; I made 16.
- Quarter and core a couple of granny smith apples (leave the skin on).
- Cream 185 gms soft butter with ½ cup white sugar and ¼ cup light brown sugar for a few minutes.
- Beat in 1 tspn vanilla, then 2 large eggs.
- Sift and fold in a heaped ½ tspn mixed spice with 2 cups of SR flour (my recipe scribbles indicate I’ve also made this with 1 ¾ cups white SR and ¼ cup wholemeal SR flour).
- Stir thru 150 mls milk. While this a fairly firm batter, add a dribble more milk if the batter is too stiff to manoeuvre.
- Transfer the batter to your muffin or cake tins. Arrange the apple slices so they are standing up, and press in gently.
- Bake for about 25 minutes for cupcakes or until done.