This is another recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple book, which I wrote about last time. I made this apple cake for dessert.
One of the great pleasures of visiting Ottolenghi’s Islington deli and restaurant is the glorious display of food in the window – especially the cakes! So fabulous is it, that it’s almost impossible to walk past without looking … and if you have time, going in. The restaurant is at the back but plenty of people come in for takeaways too so the front is often busy with people choosing and ordering things to take away. If you don’t want a dessert after eating in the restaurant, then there’s lots to tempt you on the way out if you might fancy a sweet something later.
This cake seemed a perfect dessert for an informal family Sunday lunch. I always like to make a dessert but usually it’s something very simple, like an apple crumble or tart; in the summer, maybe some homemade ice cream.
I was intrigued by the addition of a large amount of soured cream in the batter and read that is a common way to add more moisture and flavour to a cake. Certainly the raw batter (of which one always has to have a taste – unless you’re pregnant, very young or ill, of course) had quite a tangy ‘sour’ taste, though the edge was taken off by the cooking.
Having said in my last post that Ottolenghi is never really ‘simple’, this actually is a very simple cake recipe! I served mine at room temperature but Ottolenghi suggests you can serve it warm with vanilla ice cream. I made a couple of slight changes: I never use self-raising flour (I always use organic spelt flour) so I added some baking power; I prefer to cook with eating apples rather than Bramleys (sour cooking apples) so that I can use less sugar, so this is what I did and cut down on the sugary topping by almost half.
Spiced Apple Cake
- 130g unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 300g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 200g soured cream
- 4 medium-large eating apples (e.g. Cox, Braeburn, Gala), weighing about 600g
- 70g demerara sugar
- 1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice
Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160/Gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin.
Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla a little at a time (plus a little of the flour if it looks as if it’s curdling). Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Fold the flour mixture in a bit at time, alternating with spoonfuls of the soured cream. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin.
Peel, core and slice the apples into wedges (about 1.5cm thick). Put in a bowl. Mix the demerara sugar with the mixed spice and add to the apple. Toss gently to coat the pieces of apple.
Gently lay the apple on top of the batter in the tin. It looked like far too much but I went with the recipe and, of course, it was absolutely perfect!
Bake for about an hour. Mine took a little longer – Ottolenghi warns that if checking whether it’s cooked by inserting a sharp knife, it won’t come out clean because of the apple. But when I checked after 55 minutes the middle was definitely not cooked, so in the end I had it in the oven for 75 minutes. It looked really wonderful when I took it out!
Use a serrated knife to cut it as that goes through the apples better. I served it with a choice of clotted cream or Greek yoghurt.
It was a delicious cake; a wonderful flavour. And it really was simple to make!