Perhaps I should qualify this before the lawyers come knocking on my door. I’m going to give you the best-ever apple cake recipe, the only recipe you’ll ever want to use from now on, the recipe that beats all other apple cake recipes hands down … according to my husband.
I’ve written before about my husband’s peculiar lack of a sweet tooth, so the fact that he endorses this recipe wholeheartedly should be merit in itself. It wasn’t a snap decision on his part, either – this recipe is the result of many failed and not-quite-right trials over the course of several years of trying to match my apple cakes to his specific expectations. It had to be moist and taste of apples rather than spices. Not too sweet. No faffy crumbly topping stuff. No sultanas or raisins. Noticeable apple chunks – none of that puréed muck. And it didn’t stop there. Nothing baked in a round cake pan – he wanted his slices to be square.
Not demanding in the slightest then, huh?
Anyway, I’d given up. And then we moved to a house with an orchard at the bottom of its garden.
As autumn turned into winter, I sent my three children out to collect the windfalls in T’s little red wagon. Seven truckloads later, I faced a showdown situation. If I couldn’t create that perfect apple cake recipe with such an abundance of readily-available fruit, then I would have failed forever as a loving, doting wife and homemaker. Well, whatever – you get the picture.
The pressure wasn’t entirely self-induced. O did point out that his birthday was coming up and please, could I bake an apple cake for him to take into work …?
So I stayed up late, burnt the midnight oil, sweated and slaved, worked day and night …
Actually, I hit on the bright idea of mixing a few appple chunks into my favourite yellow cake recipe, tossing it all into a rectangular cake pan and slamming it into the oven for 40 minutes or so to see what happened.
What happened was the best apple cake ever … according to my husband.
PS – Chris from Green Valley Cyder said that he’d eaten many apple cakes but that this was “one of the best.” So you don’t have to take just my husband’s word for it.
The Best-Ever Apple Cake (by me and according to my husband)
13 1/4 oz peeled, cored and diced Bramley apples
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 tsp mace (or grated nutmeg)
7 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
13 1/4 oz castor sugar
5 1/4 oz eggs (weighed without shells), room temperature
2 3/4 oz egg yolks (weighed without shells), room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
8 oz plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
160 ml whole milk, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (165 degrees C for a fan-assisted oven).
Grease and base-line a 9″ x 13″ rectangular cake pan.
Peel, core and dice the apples (c. 4 largeish Bramleys). Toss in the lemon juice, cinnamon and mace (add as much or as little of these spices to suit your own taste). Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they are very light and fluffy (start to beat slowly and then gradually increase the speed – this allows air bubbles to be incorporated and expanded without popping).
Combine the whole eggs, egg yolks and vanilla in another bowl. Mix with a fork, then add gradually to the creamed butter and sugar, beating well to combine after each addition.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in yet another bowl. Beat 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the batter, then 1/2 of the milk. Repeat and then add the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients (ie. dry/wet/dry/wet/dry).
Combine half of the apples with the batter, mixing gently to distribute evenly. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Scatter the remaining apple pieces over the top of the batter.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the cake is golden and springy, and a tester comes out clean (unless you’ve speared an apple, that is).
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan and cool on a wire rack. Trim the sides and cut into squares.