Everyone asks me for the recipe for this cake, so here it is. It’s just so easy and delicious, that it makes you wonder why you might toil in the kitchen making anything more complicated for probably not a much greater effect.
It amazes me constantly how much the varying combinations of butter, flour, eggs, and sugar can produce such diverse results. Universally delicious, but so dissimilar in structure depending on the quantities and method of preparation.
This cake has something really special: an extra little topping which gives it an extra crunchy sweetness that really makes it. And to think I found this recipe in a deceptively nondescript vegetarian recipe book I bought for £5 in a discount bookstore in Scotland when I was about 20. Much respect to the creator of this recipe. I love it, and it's very forgiving. It's also quick and simple to make.
I am not sure what makes it French. My friend Pete’s mum Sheila makes a fantastic Dorset apple cake which is a much drier texture, and I suppose quite different, but then I don’t think of the French as making cakes the way we brits do, and this really feels like a proper cake to me. Perhaps the inclusion of chunks of fruit makes it a bit continental, sort of like a clafoutis.
The book is by Christine Ingram and has yielded a couple more gems. Here is the apple cake recipe with frankly very little changed. Why mess with a brilliant recipe? I do not require from it anything more than it provides, except to avoid peeling the apples, which I don’t bother doing, and also I just use any apples we happen to have - usually royal gala or cox. I really don’t think it’s necessary.
I make this cake gluten-free and it is basically exactly the same - fantastic. No one would ever know.
Serve warm with ice cream, I think. But also fabulous on its own, as it comes. It really works as a dessert after a meal as it's moist but not dense.
450g of apples, about 4, cored and chopped into pieces
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
115g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75g softened unsalted butter
115g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 160C, then line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin.
2. Place the chopped apples in the base.
3. Put the rest of the cake ingredients into a bowl and beat to a smooth batter.
4. Then pour the batter over the apples and bake for about 40 minutes until lightly golden and firm.
5. While it's baking prepare the topping by beating the ingredients together - make sure the butter is pretty soft.
6. When the base is cooked pour the topping over it and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes.
7. Allow the cake to cool in the tin and run a thin knife along the inside of the tin to avoid it sticking,
It can be reheated in a low oven. Enjoy!