I haven’t really done much baking at all over the last month or so, beyond the odd simple sponge cake. Perhaps it was a kind of Great British Bake Off related cake-fatigue, especially as I’ve been a little underwhelmed by the 2014 series: for me, too many of the challenges have focussed on bake that look fantastic on the TV but don’t sound all that appealing to me (like the twenty-layered grill cake or biscuit sculptures smothered with icing). Where cakes are concerned, they should taste nice first and then you can worry about the decoration, and as I’m not all that fond of fondant, the latter shouldn’t be at the expense of the former. This apple cake isn’t a looker, but it tastes really good.
My partner brought me a big box of Bramley apples from his family’s trees and they’ve sparked a flurry of apple recipes in the kitchen. A dollop of stewed apple has even been making a daily appearance in my porridge at breakfast. I should imagine there’ll be plenty more recipes making an appearance here too (and if you’ve got lots of home-grown apples knocking around this autumn, I hope I can help break the monotony of crumbles and pies!). This recipe is a simple upside-down cake, fruit cooked on the bottom but turned out of the tin with the apples on top, using the Bramley’s soft texture when cooked to make a nice topping for the sponge. It’s good warm with cream, or cold the next day.
Ideally I’d have loved this to turn out tarte tatin-like, with caramelised slices of apples on the top. It’s achievable with eating apples that hold their shape when cooking, but if I tried it with these, the soft nature of the cooking apples would have left me with little more than a sticky mess instead, which is how it looks already! It’s got that homely apple pie smell when it comes out the oven, which all you ever want at this time of year.
Peel and core the apples. Slice them into thin segments or wedges and submerge in a bowl of cold water and lemon juice to keep them from going brown. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and spices until smooth, reserving ½ tsp of the cinnamon and some sugar for sprinkling on the apples later. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, beat the eggs one at a time into the batter thoroughly. Set aside to arrange the apples in the tin before adding the flour.
Grease a 24cm/9in round spring-clip cake tin with butter (because of the apple mix, it’s quite tricky to turn out even with a easy-release tin, so I’d definitely avoid other kinds if you can!). Lay the apple slices over the bottom of the tin in one or two layers. Sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and 1-2 tbsp of sugar.
Add the baking powder and flour and fold this into the batter gently until it has all been combined, incorporating a third of the flour at a time using a splash of milk to loosen the mixture if necessary. Pour the mixture over the apples and bake for around an hour (the wet apples do extend the cooking time significantly).
Once baked, allow to cool slightly and loosen the edges of the cake. Turn out upside-down onto a plate or cake stand and gently release the sides of the tin. Cut it now to eat warm as a pudding with cream or custard, or leave to cool before digging in. Enough for 8-12 slices.