Monday, 16 May 2011

Devonshire Apple Cake

Recipe Number Thirty Six:  Page 178.

To demonstrate my commitment to the challenge, when on holiday in Devon I could not be kept from baking! We stayed in a self catering farm cottage and, although I expected the kitchen cupboards to hold most basic cooking utensils, I still insisted on taking most of my own things; I really was just missing the kitchen sink! I should have been upset if I couldn’t have made my cakes, so thought it would be better to be safe than sorry. 
After fishing out my ‘Baking Bible’ and traybake tin from one of the many bags, I looked in the well stocked kitchen cupboards for a mixing sized bowl. Unfortunately, the search was fruitless and my weighing scales became multi-purpose. I estimated I could just about fit all the ingredients into the weighing bowl and mix them together. With some apprehension I looked at the electric fan oven. I silently pleaded to it, asking for it to be kind to me. Using a different oven always worries me! 
I started on the job of peeling my cooking apples. As they were such big apples, I only needed to peel two. I sliced the apples thinly and squeezed some lemon juice over them. I had forgotten to leave the butter out to soften so I was very pleased to see that I needed to melt it; it took a while to melt as there was so much of it. I can’t get over how much butter I am using lately. I buy on average two packets each week! 
I measured all the dry ingredients and then used the same bowl to mix everything together. I added the beaten eggs and melted butter to the bowl. The contents came close to overflowing as I carefully mixed it all together. I added a teaspoonful of almond essence. Mary Berry says to use almond extract but I didn’t have any with me. The cake batter, which of course I had to try, tasted overwhelmingly of almonds – whoops!

I was running out of room in the modestly sized kitchen. I had to take up every available surface, so I ended up resting my ‘Baking Bible’ on my little boy’s highchair so I could still follow the instructions! I had managed to squeeze my traybake tin onto the very edge of the worktop. I poured half of the almondy cake mixture into it and then arranged the apple slices on top. The apple slices had by this point turned an unappetising brown colour, even with the lemon juice marinade! I scraped the bowl and managed to find enough cake mixture to cover the apples. A generous sprinkle of almonds and my cake was ready for the oven. Neil was disappointed when I told him that the cake would take an hour and fifteen minutes; he had hoped for a slice a little sooner!

After the long wait, I was glad to finally be able to take the tin out of the oven. I was very relieved to see that it wasn’t burnt but, as the finishing touch is a sprinkling of sugar, I could have easily hidden any burnt bits! Mary Berry says the cake is delicious warm with some cream or fromage frais. Even though I must come across as a right old greedy guts, I would never normally add such things to a cake. However, on Mary’s advice, we bought some cream! So, whilst the cake was still a little warm, I cut us a slice each and poured a little cream over them. I swear I could feel my waistband tighten just looking at my bowl of calorie loaded loveliness! After just one bite I was in heaven; no, not due to a heart attack! The sponge was very light with a hint of almond; the apple layer gave an extra sweetness. I tried a much smaller slice later on when it was cold. I agree with Mary, the cake is much nicer warm. I think the apples make the cake moister when warm, but they do not have the same effect once cold. The result is a much drier cake; maybe it is more a dessert than a cake. I just had to try it with custard the next day! 
Heaven in a bowl!

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