Apple and Cinnamon Crumble Cake

It is apple season and I am overwhelmed with apples at the moment after inheriting a huge tree in my new garden. It left me craving apple cake but I have to admit that I did not have a famous, family recipe handed down for generations  but I was determined it should be perfect. So, where to start?  No cookbooks of mine sprang to mind, so I scoured the internet and as I have found before, this is a dangerous pastime. There are literally thousands of recipes to choose from and no real guarantee that any of them are any good or even going to work. In the past I have stuck to safe bets such as Jamie Oliver, BBC Good Food or allrecipes.co.uk. Large corporations, such as Jamie Oliver have testing kitchens which try out all the recipes, so they tend to be more likely to work. Other websites such as allrecipes have ratings so you can try and get an idea on the feedback. So after sifting through at least half a dozen recipes I decided on one by Nigella Lawson which had been tested and had good ratings. I am very disappointed to say it really was not very good. More of a pudding than a cake, it just was not special at all. I was quite irritated to say the least. I had made it and photographed it for this blog, which had taken quite some time and now I was at a bit of a quandary as to whether I should just write it up anyway, and say it was OK or start again. The cake sat there uneaten. It was the kind of cake which was just not worth sacrificing your waistline for. I wanted a cake that made you say “to hell with the calories, this is too good.” I decided I just had to try harder. Back to the drawing board.  I thought about what I really wanted from an apple cake. Apply, crumbly, not too sweet and a hint of Cinnamon. I wanted a cake that it didn’t matter exactly how many apples you used or what type of apple they were, it would still deliver on texture and taste. I finally found a recipe and I am proud to say that it is nothing short of perfect. Irresistibly good and every bit worth the calories.

Apple Crumble Cake 2

Apple and cinnamon crumble cake

For the crumble topping:
125g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g slightly salted butter, cold, cubed
125g demerara or light brown sugar
50g roasted chopped hazelnuts or almonds

For the cake:
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g slightly salted butter, softened
150g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100ml milk
2 large organic free range Eggs
6 Cox or Braiburn apples or 4 Bramleys
Juice 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin with baking parchment. For the crumble topping, place the flour, cinnamon and cold butter into a large bowl or and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and nuts then transfer to the fridge. (Alternatively put the whole lot in a food processor and pulse until you have breadcrumbs)

2. For the cake, sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Using a mixer or electric handheld whisk, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Gradually beat a little flour into the butter mixture, followed by a little of the milk and eggs, alternating until they’re all mixed in. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and level with the back of a spoon. (This can all be done in a food processor too.)

3. Peel, core and halve the apples, then slice thinly and toss in the lemon juice. Arrange on top of the cake mixture then sprinkle the chilled crumble over the top.

4. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. You can see when it is done as the cake rises in the middle and the apples begin to poke out. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Great with vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream or clotted cream.

Apple Crumble Cake

Blueberry Pound Cake

Blueberries

Finally for this week, I was tempted by the delicious looking blueberries, fresh in at Riverford this week. These are delicious just sprinkled on your breakfast but I was inspired to make a cake which I have often made when cooking Riverford lunches. This cake is super easy and I particually like it as it works equally well as a pudding with a dollop of Crème Fraiche or Clotted Cream, as it does with a cup of tea in the afternoon. You can either bake it is the traditional bundt tin (I managed to find one in Elys sale) or else try it in cupcake cases.

Blueberry pound cake

2 cups plus 8 Tbsp. Plain Flour (14oz)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

1 2/3 cup sugar (14oz)

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature

2 Tbsp. Vanilla Bean Paste

1 cup/punnet blueberries

 Set an oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 170⁰C. Butter a standard-sized Bundt tin and dust it with flour, shaking out any excess. Do this well – the edges of Bundt tins can stick. In the bowl of a food processor, blend eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add butter and vanilla, and blend until the mixture is fluffy, about 1 minute, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the mixture looks curdled, don’t worry. Add dry ingredients saving back 1 tbsp. of flour, and process just to combine. Do not over mix. The batter should be thick and very smooth. In a bowl, toss berries with the remaining tablespoon of flour. Pour batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly across the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Transfer cake to a rack, and allow to cool. Carefully invert the cake out of the pan onto the rack, and cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.