As I’m still buying about two kilos of apples a week – I never can resist those markets – I decided, after my success with the French Apple Cake, that it was time to chance an Irish version. I turned to Clare Connery’s Irish Cooking for inspiration and took her version of White Soda Bread as my base.
My idea was to use the White Soda Bread to sandwich a filling of sweetened and spiced apple slices. I’m not sure where it came from but maybe the traditional Irish cooking in Maura Laverty’s Never No More gave me ideas!
It must be admitted that this Irish Apple Cake was a fairly stodgy offering but it didn’t sit around for too long. A chunk of it heated up in the microwave and served with a heaped spoonful of Greek yoghurt made a rib-sticking treat for afternoon tea. A liberal hand with the sugar when you’re sweetening the chopped apple is the key. I also brushed the top of the cake with milk and sprinkled it with another couple of spoonfuls of sugar making for a lovely crunchy caramelised top.
Maybe cake is too grand a word for it. It’s like the sort of feed you’d take out to a field-full of men harvesting the hay or silage. Plenty of ballast for hard work!
Irish Apple Cake
Plain flour – 500g
Cream of tartar – 1 heaped teaspoon
Bicarbonate of soda – 2 teaspoons
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Caster sugar – 50g plus 50g plus 2 tablespoonfuls
Buttermilk – 400 to 475mls
Apples – 5, peeled, cored and chopped
Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
Milk – 2 tablespoons
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Sift the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add 50g sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add 400mls of the buttermilk. Mix lightly to a spongy dough with a broad-bladed knife or wooden spoon, adding more buttermilk if necessary.
Grease a Swiss-roll tin with butter and turn half the bread dough into it, spreading it across the bottom. Mix the apples with 50g sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle it across the base. Top with the rest of the dough in spoonfuls – it won’t be possible to spread it across the apples. Brush with milk and sprinkle with the last of the sugar.
Put tin in oven and cook at 200°C/400°F for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 150°C/300°F and cook for a further 20 minutes until well risen and golden with a crispy top.