Apple cake – put enough fruit in and you can almost say you’re having one of your five a day. Pair it with a nice bit of caramel icing and then I think you have a perfect cake with both the slightly sharp fruit and the salty caramel contrasting and cutting through the sweetness of the cake.
Making caramel is something that people are often worried about but with a little care there is very little to fear – possibly apart from washing up the caramel pan afterwards. However, I think this is more than offset with learning one of the best Get-out-of-Jail-Free tricks there is as putting a nice caramel on something always makes it taste so much better. The caramel here is obviously for icing a cake but alter the amount of cream or butter and you can use it for a tart, as an ice cream topping, a macaroon filling and much more.
A lot of people asked me about the baby apples that I used to decorate the apple cakes in these photos. I bought mine from Infusions4chefs. I think you get just over 20 apples in a tin.
- 2 medium sized cooking apples (about 300g once peeled & cored), chopped fairly small
- 225g unsalted butter
- 180 light brown muscovado sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 225g self raising flour
- 2tsp baking powder
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 2 balls stem ginger
- 12 cardamons or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp seeds finely ground
- 75ml apple squash
- 50ml stem ginger juice
- 225 caster sugar
- splash of water
- 1/2tsp vinegar
- 200 unsalted butter
- 45ml double cream
- vanilla essence
- 75g mascarpone cheese
- Preheat the oven to 170C.
- Put the butter, muscovado sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat for a couple of minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Chop the apples quite finely and set aside.
- In another bowl sieve and mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ground ginger. Add the crushed cardamon. Beat into the butter.
- Stir in the chopped apples, apple squash and juice from stem ginger.
- Split between 2 x 9 inch tins and bake for about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile start on the icings. Put the caster sugar and splash of water in a pan on a medium heat. Stir in the water so all the sugar is wet. Remove spoon and don’t put it back in!
- After a few minutes of bubbling the caramel will start to smoke – this is good! But don’t let it smoke too much – there’s a balance to be struck. Once mixture is nutty brown turn off heat and quickly but carefully add butter and stir in. The caramel is incredibly hot so you really don’t want it to splash on you.
- Once butter is melted, add vanilla, double cream and salt to taste. Set aside to cool, then put in fridge to cool a little more. Beat until fluffy and pale.
- Apple icing: Put flour, caster sugar, salt, apple juice and a bit of green food colouring in small pan and heat. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes before allowing to completely cool.
- Beat butter and icing sugar. Then add flour mixture and beat until smooth.
- Put apple icing in middle of cake and vanilla toffee icing on top.
- Chomp, chomp, chomp!