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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Apple Cakes for Apple Day

My life has been somewhat apple-themed of late. Since Mr Fitz asked me to make Apple Sauce for his hog roast at the MK Food Fest, I have been surrounded by bags of apples. I have made several batches of Apple Sauce, Apple Ketchup and Brown Sauce for Mr Fitz and I have made various apple jams too - Apple & Ginger Jam, Apple & Ginger Marmalade, Toffee Apple Jam, Orchard Fruit Jam, Apple & Cider Mincemeat and Spiced Apple Curd. This is partially driven by the need to make use of the apples before they spoil and partially because October is Apple Day season and it is nice to have some apple preserves on sale for those. Last weekend I was at the Stony Stratford Apple Day and next weekend I shall be on hand to provide information about foraging at the Great Linford Apple Day.

The Stony Stratford Apple Day was a lovely day out. I have been attending this event since it started about 5 years ago and I think this year's was the best yet. My daughter always enjoys entering the cooking competition. A few years ago she got third prize for her apple crumble, last year she entered her apple charlotte and this year the competition was for apple cake. A week beforehand she selected a recipe for Dorset Apple Cake and tested it out on the family. It didn't cook according to plan and we had to leave it in the oven for much longer than it suggested but it had a lovely crunchy topping and a lovely flavour. Happy with this, she made it again for the Apple Day.

In the meantime, the idea of creating an apple cake had been ticking away at the back of my brain. I wasn't really thinking I would enter the competition too as I had enough to be doing anyway in preparation for the day but then the idea struck me that I could make an apple-shaped cake using the hemisphere tins my mum had bought me for my birthday a few years ago. You may remember that I once used these tins to create an elephant cake for my daughter's birthday. That had been a banana and maple cake inside so I began to wonder if I could make the same basic recipe but substituting mashed bananas with cooked apple. But, then, of course, there had been the pumpkin cake I had made for Halloween last year. This cake had been a Lakeland pumpkin cake recipe. So.... maybe I could make that but swap the grated pumpkin for grated apples...

That seemed the most likely option so on the Saturday before the apple day, whilst my daughter busied herself with her Dorset Apple Cake, I set about making my apple cake, grating 6 Bramley apples into the batter instead of pumpkin. Once cooled, I sandwiched the two hemispheres together using some freshly made Spiced Apple Curd. Next I cut a little divot out of the top, drizzled over some more of the Spiced Apple Curd and stuck in a cinnamon stick to resemble the stalk.

The next day my daughter and I proudly took our cakes over to the judging tent, where a fantastic selection of other cakes were already on display. Then later that afternoon the winners were announced. My daughter got herself a "Highly Commended", although the critic that came with the certificate said it had a soggy bottom. Alas this proved to be true - such is the problem with cooking cakes with chunks of apple in. Sadly, I didn't get a place and my critic said that there wasn't enough apple in it. Ho hum. Taking home the remains, I have to say that I thought it tasted fantastic and my daughter said it was like some sort of amazing birthday cake.

Apple Cake

320g plain flour
180g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 ground cinnamon
1/2 mixed spice
180g light brown sugar
4 eggs
6 bramley apples
240ml vegetable oil
150g sultanas

Preheat oven to 160°C/gas 3 and grease 2 medium hemisphere tins. Sift the flour into a bowl and add caster sugar, raising agents, salt and spices. In a measuring jug, mix together the oil, light brown sugar and eggs. Add this mix to the dry ingredients, add the grated apple and sultanas and stir together until combined. Divide to batter between the two tins and make for 1 hour 20 minutes until golden brown. Test with a skewer. Leave to cool in the tins. Once cool, sandwich together with spiced apple curd, jam or butter icing.

The idea of the banana and maple cake still nagged at the back of my mind too and I was curious to know if it would work. So, later in the week I made a batch of what should have been banana and maple muffins but I substituted the mashed banana for an equivalent quantity of my Apple Sauce. Oh my! These proved to be a winner, making golden muffins with a beautiful light texture. The Apple Day judges wouldn't have liked them as they didn't taste at all appley but that in itself has its advantages when looking to create a beautifully light plain cake in the future. Definitely one to remember.

Apple & Maple Muffins

110g softened butter
110g caster sugar
225g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs
110g apple sauce

Preheat oven to 190°C, gas 5 and put paper cases in a 12 hole muffin tin. Cream together the butter and sugar then add the eggs (one at a time). Stir in the syrup and then add the apple sauce. Add the flour and baking powder and stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Test with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.

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