From Tree To Table in 60 Minutes
We are up in Scotland this week, spending part of our half-term holidays visiting family. When we arrived, the children’s Dadima (my mother-in-law) excitedly told her grandchildren about how the apple tree in the back yard was filled with tasty apples, some of which she had ‘saved’ for them to pick themselves. The kids were so excited and ran out to pick and munch their apples almost immediately.
Now, this apple tree, planted a few short years ago, is not like the towering orchard trees of my Canadian youth, nor is it a regal English specimen. In fact, the most gracious way I can think to describe this tree would be as a sapling which is doing its best. It stands in the corner of the garden, beside a concrete shed, staked and supported. At times, it looks as though it may snap under the weight of the very fruit it bears.
But oh, what lovely fruit it is! Perfectly red skinned apples with a tangy crunch and the most gorgeously tinged pink insides – almost too lovely to put into a cake. But my children had other plans for them. After eating their fill, they insisted we should make our apple cake with these beauties. Our most delicious, best apple cake! To share! I think they felt that the sharing aspect would tip the scales in their favour and… it did. Because this is a cake made for sharing. It comes together easily with ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard and is very forgiving of changes and substitutions and little hands putting in a pinch more of this or a tablespoon more of that. You don’t even need a mixer and did I mention it’s delicious?
But the other thing I always remember about this cake is that it was a recipe shared with me and one that I am continually grateful for. First found on a late-night internet search well over seven years ago, it was posted on a personal blog and attributed to the author’s mum. It was a keeper from the first try – so easy and tasty, the kind of old fashioned cake you could have on the table for unexpected guests or bake for neighbours in no time at all.
Not much for printing things out, I would look up the bookmarked recipe every time I needed it. That is, until one day when I went to pull it up only to find that the entire blog had been wiped away. I couldn’t understand it. Where had it gone?! It had even disappeared from the internet archives. I looked up the author’s name and finally came across a note saying that she would be removing her blog. I felt so despondent. The best apple cake that ever was and now out of my reach forever. In a last ditch attempt to recover this beloved recipe I searched for a contact form or email and wrote the blog author a desperate note about her mother’s apple cake and if there was anyway she would be willing to send me the recipe. And, then, a few days later, to my complete surprise, came a response with a PDF copy of the very blog post I always referenced. Yes, the lovely blog author had sent me the recipe along with a gracious note about appreciating my love for the best apple cake. The best kind of sharing – with nothing held back.
So it is with great pleasure, and in the spirit of which it was given to me, that I pass this recipe on. I’ve made a few modifications over the years but it’s major components remain the same and obviously, it’s not necessary to pick the apples off the tree yourself, that part’s just a bonus. The true joy is in the making – and the eating!
Best Apple Cake
(shared and adapted from Jen Leheny)
2 to 3 Apples, peeled and chopped Use absolutely any kind of apples you have or wish to use.
1 cup (200g) Granulated Sugar We used unrefined cane sugar, but any kind is fine. You may want cut the sugar down to 3/4cups (150g) if using sweeter apples, like Royal Gala etc.
1/2 cup (113g) Butter, melted
1 Large Egg
1 1/2 cups (192g) Flour Almost any kind of flour will work. This time I used half wholemeal spelt and half plain all-purpose flour. The spelt gave a delicious nuttiness to the cake.
1 teaspoon Baking Soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice optional
1 teaspoon – 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
2 tablespoons Sour Cream OR Yoghurt OR Buttermilk Choose one (not all three!), essentially whatever you have on hand
Butter and flour any dish or tin you wish to bake this cake in. I’ve baked it in 8 inch square pyrex dishes, cast iron pans, in oval casseroles or, as in this case, a 23cm springform tin- the only thing to remember is that it won’t do well as a loaf cake, so don’t use the loaf tin.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C)
Wash, peel and chop the apples and add them to a large mixing bowl.
Add the sugar to the same mixing bowl and stir together with the chopped apples.
Gently melt the butter and crack the egg into it. Whisk together quickly to combine.
Add the melted butter and egg mixture into the bowl with sugar and apples and mix well.
Place the flour, baking soda and spices in a sieve and sift over the apple mixture. If you don’t have a sieve, then simply whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before adding them to the apples.
Stir just enough to mix together.
Add the sour cream OR yoghurt OR buttermilk and gently mix through the batter. It won’t matter if you can still see some white streaks as long as most of it is combined together. Do not overmix.
Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 45 – 60 minute or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean or when it springs back when lightly pressed.
Dust with icing sugar when cool, cut and share! Although to be honest, you don’t need to wait for it to cool completely, just enough that it doesn’t crumble apart when cut.
Also Homemade Bread In An Hour (we do seem to love things that are done in an hour!)