Well, although the warm weather is tricking us, winter is finally upon us. The Ludlow Medieval Fayre came and went and Ludlow is looking positively Christmassy! Thank goodness for the amazing lights that illuminate the town as the nights draw in, they cheer me up on my way home after a long day’s work.
I always do a lot of baking this time of year. We tend to spend more time indoors, where it’s warm, when it’s pouring it down with rain. It’s also the time to have people over for cake accompanied by coffee, tea or a cheeky mulled wine!
This is another recipe from my Granny, which we love to have both hot straight out the oven with custard, or served up cold with a hot drink. It keeps for ages in a tin and freezes well. This is the last recipe for the year, so here’s a toast to you and a very Merry Christmas.
#1 - this recipe can be made wheat and gluten free with ‘free-from’ flour, just add a little milk to the mixture, as ‘free-from’ flour is more dry.
#2 - you ideally need to use cooking apples for this recipe but in a baking emergency, you could use any apples you have lying around.
Alice’s Apple Cake
serves 6-8 people
340g Self-raising flour
225g Unsalted butter
170g Caster sugar
455g Peeled and diced cooking apple – that’s about 3, it’s fine to be a bit over or under.
FLOUR AND BUTTER…THE PERFECT RUB
1. Preheat oven to 180c.
2. Rub the butter into the flour in a large bowl until it is thoroughly mixed and crumb-like. Using both hands, you need to lift the mixture and rub it together to mix it well. You can use a food mixer but where’s the fun in that?!
3. Add the remaining ingredients individually ensuring to mix thoroughly before adding the next. It will make a lumpy mixture with the sultanas and apple.
4. Grease and line a 20 cm (8 in) tin. Wipe unsalted butter around the tin to grease it (I usually save the butter papers for this job when I’ve used up all my butter) and line the bottom with a circle of greaseproof paper.
5. Tip in the mixture and tap the tin down flat on the worktop to level it out. Bake in the oven for around 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours. I usually check after an hour, but don’t check too soon or too much as when you open the door it changes the temperature of the oven and the cake won’t cook properly or it won’t rise. I check it by pressing the top to make sure it has a bit of a give in it. To test for doneness I stick a knife into the middle of it, if a clean and crumby knife emerges it is ready. If it is sticky give it a few minutes more and test again.
6. Leave it in the tin for about 5 minutes to cool a little. Then run a knife round the tin and tip the cake out onto a cooling rack. Impatient as I am, I have been known to cut it in the tin but when it’s hot don’t expect a lovely slice. I have to scoop it out as it doesn’t keep its shape, then it becomes more a splodge rather than slice of apple cake! I’ve also taken it warm in the tin to a friend’s house and it’s been fine to leave in the tin until it is really cold.