I decided to explore another recipe from the The Primrose Bakery book. This time my eye was caught by a recipe for apple cake. It very much reminded me of an apple spice cake that I used to bake regularly for my family when I was in the 2nd year of medical school. I was also motivated to use up the two jars of apple sauce that have been sitting in the fridge since before the lockdown. The recipe is pretty easy to tackle and I enjoyed making the cake. What was disappointing was version 1 – again, a cake that was not cooked through. I put it back in the oven for another 40 minutes, with foil covering the top. It did not make any difference. I still had a cake with a centre that was a soggy mess in the middle. The edges were fine, so we ate those, but the rest of the cake went into the circular file. It felt like such a waste.
I am not sure why this was happening. Cakes bake from the outside in, so it might be that the oven was either not hot enough and the cake did not cook through or the oven was too hot and the cake cooked too quickly on the outside. My personal theory was that there was too much cake mixture in the tin. So I planned to make it again but with two smaller cake tins. This time, the cakes turned out perfectly. Maybe my theory was correct.
How does this cake taste? Nutty, spicy, apple-ly, soft, moist, crunchy, like Christmas, like long summer holidays, like the gentle start of autumn. A flashback of memories and tastes. A truly wholesome cake for me.
300g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
115g chopped walnuts
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing tin
230g granulated sugar
1 large egg, free range or organic
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
500g apple sauce (from a jar) or unsweetened stewed apple
Icing sugar, for dusting
Makes 1 x 23 cm round cake
Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas mark 4. Grease 1 x 23 cm cake tin (about 6 – 7 cm in depth) and line the base with baking paper.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a medium-sized bowl, add the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, combine the raisins and walnuts and then add a small amount of the flour mixture to coat them well.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar for a minute or two with an electric hand mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat well. Beat in the flour mixture, one-third at time, alternating with the apple sauce. Finally, stir in the walnut and raisin mixture with a spoon until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tine, making sure the batter is evenly distributed. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let it cool in its tin on a wire rack before turning out onto a serving plate.
Dust a little icing sugar over the top of the cake before serving. You could also serve it still slightly warm and even with double cream or creme fraiche.
Keep any uneaten cake in an airtight container or wrap in clingfilm and store at room temperature for 2 – 3 days.
Reference: The Primrose Bakery Book, Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas, page 120