Thursday, October 13th, 2016
‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.’ (Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery)
I have always loved autumn. I start getting excited at the end of August, dreaming up soups and casseroles, longingly staring at my coat, and buying opaque tights in bulk. Perhaps, in part, this love is fuelled by my birthday, which falls at the end of September, right on the cusp when the leaves are just starting to turn gold and there’s a definite chill in the air in the mornings, urging you to stay under the duvet, in the warmth, for just a little bit longer. But I think this love runs deeper than that. When autumn finally arrives, with gusto, at the beginning of October, and the cold nips at my cheeks and fingers, my already brisk gait gains an extra hop. I wouldn’t go as far to say I go skipping through the forest, but it’s close.
I baked this apple cake at the beginning of September, still wearing summer dresses, kidding myself that the nights were really closing in, that we’d have a fire on Sunday afternoon, while feeling slightly, uncomfortably, hot while drying my hair. It’s truly perfect for autumn. Dark brown sugar, apples, cinnamon and gloriously sharp brambly apples that soften, beautifully, in the oven.
Not only is it beautiful, it’s also deceptively easy to bake, and goes equally well warm with custard and cold with cream.
To make one 23cm cake:
(Adapted from this Rick Stein recipe)
1 or 2 brambly apples, depending on size
125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
140g soft, dark brown sugar, plus extra for topping
3 large, free range eggs
225g plain flour
2 level tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp milk
1tsp ground cinnanmon
Start by preheating the oven to 170c/150c(Fan)/Gas Mark 3 and greasing and lining your tin. Put a baking tray in the oven to warm up.
Beat together the butter and sugar, for at least 5 minutes, until soft and fluffy and all of the sugar has dissolved into the fat.
Next, add the eggs, one by one, beating well between each addition, and then sift in the dry ingredients. Fold these in, followed by the milk.
Pour into your pan and set to one side, while you peel, core, and slice the apples. Arrange these on top of the cake mixture and sprinkle over the cinnamon and some brown sugar.
Put your cake in the oven, on the warmed up baking tray, and bake for 45minutes to an hour, testing with a piece of dry spaghetti.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the tin for 15minutes or so and them on a rack.
Serve warm, with custard or ice cream, or cold, with cream.