Hello, lovely readers! Happy Friday to all! I'm hoping to have some important announcements to share with you very soon, but for the moment I must keep schtum. Therefore: cake!
Yes, that cake. Oh, baby.
Today's post is brought to you by my desire to share this new recipe that I actually came up with myself by smushing a couple of other recipes together and then taking some things out and adding other stuff in (adult life achievement level: unlocked). I have named my creation Spiced Caramel Apple Cake and it's got a texture a bit like a sticky toffee pudding, but the top is covered in delicious apple caramel like a tart tatin. It's delicious and super, super easy to make and you can eat it hot or cold. The hardest bit is turning it out of the pan onto a plate afterwards (get help for that, if you can).
Ingredients for the cake mixture:
150g golden caster sugar
200 plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
200 mls of buttermilk
75 mls of sunflower or other flavourless oil
Ingredients for the caramel:
150g soft brown sugar
2 large Bramley apples OR 1 large apple and three tablespoons of apple sauce
A sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger - or mixed spice if that's what you have
Crushed up pistachios or chopped pecans
Thick double cream or warm custard
This will generously serve eight people if they're all pretty hungry, or offer a decent portion to up to twelve. Sadly I can't say how long it would keep for; the last time I made it, the whole thing was demolished in less than two days!
OK, first up assemble your supplies, then pre-heat your oven to 180. Don't bother pre-heating if it's a fan, obviously - you'll just need to set it to 160 right before the cake's ready to go in instead.
Get yourself a large, non-stick pan that's oven safe and put the brown sugar and butter in together, along with the spices (about a teaspoon of them in total when mixed together) and the apple sauce if you're using that, and cook on a medium heat until the caramel is a lovely dark brown. Don't stop before it looks nice and dark, but obviously whip it off the heat sharpish the second you smell burning!
While the sugar is doing its thing, take your apples and peel and core them, then cut them into slices about the thickness of your little finger. Make sure you don't leave any of the core in there if you missed it - it will harden up and be nasty. Ditto bits of skin. Once the caramel is done, arrange the apple slices in the pan - taking care not to burn yourself on the red-hot syrup, of course. You can arrange them in a nice pattern if you're feeling brave, but just try to distribute them evenly and neatly if you can.
Put this to one side to cool down and make the cake batter next. You'll need a nice big mixing bowl and a mixing jug for this.
Put all the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, rising agents and salt) into the bowl. Then get your jug and measure the 200mls of buttermilk and 75mls of oil into it. Break the eggs into the liquids and beat them until they're nicely mixed. If it starts to look a bit bitty and like scrambled eggs, worry not - just add a tablespoon of the dry ingredients and gently mix a bit more to make it smooth. Then add the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir everything until it's a well incorporated, pale golden mixture.
If you've made a nice pattern with your apple slices in the caramel pan, add the batter to the pan carefully, a spoonful at a time, and gently massage it into place over them. If you don't care about patterns, just dollop the stuff in until the apples and caramel are totally covered.
Put the pan into the hot oven (preferably in the middle) and bake it for 25-30 minutes until the centre of the cake is solid and it's turned quite a dark golden brown. Don't be alarmed by that dark colour: it's the crust, which the cake needs to keep its shape because it's very soft and moist.
Allow the pan to cool for about ten minutes. My tip is to wet a kitchen towel (not kitchen roll, but an actual towel!) and place the pan on that, and then drape a clean, wet dish cloth over the pan handle to help them cool down quickly and make the pan safer to handle. Once you can touch the handle, get a nice big serving plate or cake stand, place it on TOP of the pan, and then turn the pan and plate over so that the cake emerges with the caramel and apple on top. I warned you this bit was tricky - my advice is to get a friend or relative (someone who is invested in your well-being and also in the cake) to stand by and help you if your arm locks up or you panic.
If you've got the caramel dark and thick enough then the cake should emerge as a glistening, sticky delight, ringed with bronze apples, looking preeettttty sexy and smelling even better. You'll want to dive right in. But wait! First add a handful of crushed or chopped nuts to the top (pistachios are the prettiest, but pecans are nom nom) and then dollop some cream or custard on too. The result:
Yes, that siren-like call you hear whispering your name is indeed this cake, calling you. I urge you to give this a go. Bring it to the table whole and your friends will make impressed oooh and aaah noises. One taste, and they'll be forever convinced you're a secret baking genius. They will have no idea how simple it all was!
Well done, you.