We are nearly through our first apple season at the cottage – the few that have been too small to pick are still grimly clinging on to the tree through November wind and rain, while the fallen ones are being enjoyed by our still-prolific rabbit population and I’ve got a stash for myself upstairs in the spare room.
My granddad, who had a small orchard beside his house, tried many different ways of storing apples, especially cooking apples, through the winter but they often disintegrated into a soup of rotten apples in the bottom of the wooden boxes he used come spring. I’m starting my own system of trials this year, lovingly hand-picking unblemished apples and hauling enamel bowlfuls upstairs to carefully arrange in a single layer on the slatted shelves of the wardrobe.
Storing aside, I’ve been cooking with the apples every weekend and Barbara’s version of Taste Magazine‘s Cinnamon Apple Cake was a well-timed entry on Winos and Foodies. I’ve been making this in a double mixture for an after-lunch pudding, so you get more cake to apple ratio – plenty of soakage for lashings of hot custard – and using Muscovado sugar to deepen the flavour. If you’ve a vanilla pod lying around, do as my little sister did last weekend and scrape the seeds into the custard to give your traditional Bird’s Custard Powder – necessary for all family meals! – a bit of an oomph.
Cinnamon Apple Cake
Butter – 175g, softened
Muscavado sugar – 150g
Eggs – 4, lightly beaten together
Self raising flour – 300g
Lemon – grated zest and juice
Milk – 100ml
Apples – 4 large or 5 small
Caster sugar – 2 tablespoons
Ground cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm baking tin, preferably springform for ease of cake removal.
Beat butter in bowl until it starts to lighten then add the sugar and continue to beat until light, pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the creamed mixture, with 1-2 tablespoons flour. Sift the rest of the flour over, and fold in with the lemon zest and milk.
Spoon the mixture into the baking tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
At this stage, start peeling, coring and quartering the apples, placing them in a bowl containing some water and the lemon juice so that they won’t turn brown (or you could have had your lovely assistant doing this while you’re getting the cake part ready).
Cut each apple quarter into three, arranging them attractively – how you do it is up to you! – on top of the cake and press into the mixture. Mix the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake and apples.
Bake in your preheated oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown and cooked through when tested with a knife.
Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve warm for desert, with custard.
Adapted from Barbara’s version of Taste Magazine’s Cinnamon Apple Cake.