• Juliette Wills

Spiced Apple Not-Exactly-Cake

Updated: May 23

Let it just be said that I'm not one for spending all day on a recipe; I have a very short attention... Where was I? Oh yes, attention span and I'm scared of complex recipes because of that. Every recipe I post will have been tried and tested several times and declared fit for purpose. Some will have been made up by the person cooking them, some will be recipes I've found online and tweaked a little (I'll always be honest with the preparation time, because everything always takes longer than stated. Sometimes I start measuring out ingredients in the morning and it's dark by the time I've got my cake in the oven, no lie). I bake for myself, I bake for my husband, I bake for my friends and neighbours and even for the postman to say thank you for being a key worker and delivering nice letters that cheer me up no end, especially the ones from the tax man, DVLA and TV licence. I'll be experimenting with my pineapple cocktail shaker and reviewing the booze (and mixers) you'll want to stock up on to make summer cocktails. I'll also be looking at non-alcoholic drinks - I know, I almost laughed as I typed that - just to balance things out. After all, nobody wants to end up in rehab after six months in lockdown. Back to baking, and I'm kicking off with my favourite recipe. I've made it five or six times and it's always gone down a storm, but that could be because it's served after a three-course dinner and sixteen bottles of wine. Try it for yourself - maybe with less wine, though, since we're not socialising...

This cake isn’t really a cake. I mean, it looks like a cake, talks like a cake and walks like a cake, but it’s something else entirely. It doesn’t rise, it’s dense rather than light and fluffy and it’s crunchy on top thanks to the genius who thought of adding sugar and cardamom to the top before baking. The lemon might seem like a strange addition but it really doesn’t work as well without it (I tried, when I realised I’d forgotten to buy lemons, and was somewhat disappointed). I found this recipe in Waitrose’s in-store magazine so I can’t take the credit for it, but I have made it enough times to suggest how to serve it and to insist that it’s only brought out for your favourite people. Oh, and that’s my cake in the photo, just to prove I know what I’m on about. For me it’s almost like a giant biscuit, but I’m not complaining. It goes wonderfully eaten with your fingers while you sip a cup of coffee in the morning, but works just as well as a dessert with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or double cream. It’s one of my favourite things to make and given that I don’t like fussy recipes, I can promise you that it’s also easy. What more could you ask for?

Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus cooling Cooking time: 65 minutes Serves: 10

INGREDIENTS

150g caster sugar  125g unsalted softened butter 130g sifted plain flour 30g ground almonds 20 cardamom pods 2 large free range eggs  1 teaspoon of baking powder  ¾ teaspoon of fine sea salt  1 tablespoon of lemon juice Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon 3 peeled apples (try Pink Lady) 1 tablespoon of demerara sugar

METHOD

First off, check you’ve got all the ingredients before you do anything. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to skim-read recipes in excitement, get halfway through the process and then exclaim, ‘F*ck! I haven’t got any ground almonds, how did I miss that?!’ loudly enough for my neighbours to hear.

1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Grease and line a 20cm round, deep cake tin. Bust open the cardamom pods with the flat of a knife under your palm, extract the seeds and grind them to a powder in a pestle and mortar and set aside. Be warned that they fly about like nobody's business so be careful or you'll lose them all before you've even started. Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and juice, and half the ground cardamom until combined. The mixture will be quite stiff. Transfer to the lined tin and level it out. 

2. Quarter the peeled apples and remove the cores. Put cored-side down on a board and make thin parallel cuts into each piece, without cutting all the way through (as you would if preparing hasselback potatoes). Position the apple quarters in circles on top of the cake, trimming into shape if necessary. They should look like little apple armadillos.

3. Stir together the demerara sugar and remaining cardamom and sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake for 65 minutes until deep golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 45 minutes - if it’s cooking too quickly scream 'Nooooo!' then take a deep breath and cover with foil. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Try not to ram it all in your mouth in one go; I promise you will want to do this but do attempt some refrain.

Serve with double cream or vanilla ice (ice, baby) cream (my favourite is a non-dairy ice-cream made with soya by a company called Swedish Glace which is super creamy, and actually preferred by everyone I've given it to over dairy ice-cream) to people you really like and that you know will appreciate it. That’s pretty much the basics for all home-baked goods, right? Next up I'll be sharing my gooey chocolate brownies recipe. I've just made some. They're pretty awesome. I'll need winching out of the house by the time I'm officially allowed out. #homemade #homebaking #applecake #spicedapplecake #homemadecake #bakes #baking #waitrose #apples #cardamon #swedishglace #icecream #recipe #cakerecipe #homemaker #vintageplate #soya #vanilla

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