I’m not sure what else can be said about spiced apple cake that hasn’t been said before. I could follow suit of the northern hemisphere at the moment and talk about the latest windfall of apple picking, and how ever to use up 20 pounds of apples if not in a spiced apple cake, earthy and sweet and unequivocally autumnal? (Although they would say fall.) But it is not fall here, and apple picking, for all its romance, is not available.
I could write of the warming homeliness of cinnamon, allspice and ginger, of how it seems appropriate to bunker down, perhaps beneath a blanket and with a mug of black tea when eating spiced apple cake. But here, summer is finally waving hello. It is the time of year to stay outdoors, to eat ice cream and, in a few months, juicy stone fruit.
I could write of the nubbliness of rolled oats. Of how oats undergo an amazing transformation from plain cereal to soft and luxurious and worthy of the title sweet treat or dessert when mixed with butter and brown sugar. I could write about the contrast in texture with, perhaps, broken walnut pieces. But truth be told, this is a simple spiced apple cake, plain and sweet, no walnuts or nubbly oats, just apple, spice and a few raisins.
I could write about the spiced apple cakes my mother used to make, for there have been several. Our most popular apple cake has a strudel-esque topping that always seems to marble with the cake batter, ruining the effect, but is no less delicious.
Perhaps, like banana bread, we do not need any more words or recipes for spiced apple cake.
And yet, here I am.
For me the most surprising part of this cake is the preparation of the two apples. Peeled, yes. But rather than roughly diced apple breaking the surface of the cake and creating little pockets of soft apple within the batter, the apples are thinly sliced, as you would for an apple tart. The sliced apples are then covered with all of the sugar, not a modest few tablespoons while the rest of the measure is creamed with butter as we would expect.
The two apples go a long way. The thin slices fill the cake out nicely; no ounce of batter is left apple-less. The slices cook down to near nothingness, their fragrance seeping throughout the cake, but cut a slice and pale streaks of apple are throughout.
I may make apple cakes like this from now on – apples sliced over apples diced.
And there we are, those are my words on spiced apple cake.
Spiced Apple Cake
I doubled the measure of spices and reduced the amount of sugar by 25 grams; below is the recipe to my adjustments. I also used one Granny Smith and one braeburn apple as that’s what I had on hand, but any good cooking apples will do. If you are using a sweeter variety, or adding more dried fruit the sugar can be further reduced to 200 grams.
The cake is best served warm with crème fraîche.
2 apples (see note above)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
125 grams butter
225 grams sugar
185 grams flour
75 grams raisins
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake tin.
Peel and slice apples thinly. Place in a large bowl and mix in the sugar.
Melt butter then leave to cool for several minutes before mixing in the egg. Pour the butter mixture over the apples and stir well. Sift dry ingredients over the apples and combine until just mixed.
Pour into cake tin and bake 50 minutes to an hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Dust with icing sugar to serve.