A cake for all seasons

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

 –  George Bernard Shaw

Like a Dubai summer that seems to last all year long, this cake recipe is one that passes with flying colours regardless the season you serve it in! That’s why I call it: The All Year Round Spiced Apple Cake.

All year round, you will find good apples to munch on. The snowy effect of dusting the cake with icing sugar, makes it ideal for winter and the festive season. The use of spices and their aromas evoke an autumnal feel affirmed by the apple wafers that are like the falling leaves in autumn. Then the green apples add a tone of spring, from their colour to their fresh flavours. And the caramel brown colour, like beach bodies tanned by continuous exposure to the sun, which is very summer to me. It is a cake that celebrates all seasons, and so I make it very often, and everyone loves it.

Expanding the serving perspective

The way you serve a cake can make a huge difference to the overall eating experience. The same cake can produce, massively different results according to how it’s served, and the accompaniments you go for. This cake is, in that sense, very universal. It is a perfect coffee cake, as it’s sweetness contrasts the bitterness in coffee. It goes very well with flavoured teas as well making it a perfect afternoon treat. You can also serve the cake with thickened cream or a brown sugar cream (cream, cinnamon and apples are the reason why threesome is a word). The extra moistness from the cream makes the cake become more like a pudding in experience.

With that said, my favourite way to serve this cake is alongside a fruit salad. You won’t believe how this cakes marries a fruit salad! The flavours just compliment each other and bring out all the goodness in every bite. So I would usually make a bowl of fruit salad, and this cake. Then when I slice the cake, I place it in the plate and top it with a large scoop of fruit salad and dress it with the salad juices. Ah! Heavenly! You really have to give it a try, you will love it.Simply use any available seasonal fruits for making the salad and go for this option for your next dessert menu. The whole thing is light, flavoursome, fresh, will never leave you feeling overly full, and everyone will most certainly reach out for seconds.

One of the things I love about this cake is its look. This is not one of those straight, perfect looking, calculated cakes. It is more spontaneous, very homemade with a country kitchen feel to it. In terms of texture it is super moist, due to the use of the Muscovado sugar, which is moister than other sugars. You get an occasional crunch from pieces of apples that did not overly cook, and some bursts of juiciness from those that did cook to softness. The spices are optional, you can go for one, or more, you can even add some ginger and cloves when you make it during the festive season. These spices, give depth to the flavours, and make it all the more aromatic, scenting your whole neighbourhood and setting off craves. Teamed up with the fruit salad it is just layers upon layers of flavour and texture!

I will stop my Charles Dickens descriptive spree for now and will leave you to try it and decide. Since we are talking about little tweaks that change the look and experience of cakes, I have also included for you a video that shows you how with a small change you can produce 6 different styles out of the same cake!

Happy Baking!

Ingredients

Serves: 12
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups firmly packed Muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup oil (any tasteless vegetable cooking oil)
  • 3 cups green apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp vanilla or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • fine zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground star anise (optional for a spiced flavour)
  • a pinch of allspice (optional for a spiced flavour)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
  • Apple Wafers for garnish and to serve on the side

Preheat your oven to 350F-180C.

Grease and lightly flour your baking pan (I prefer to use a tube pan for this cake for the very home-made feel, but you can use any pan you like).

In a large bowl beat together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix together all the rest of the ingredients except the apples and pecans.

After the 2 minutes are over, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until all the ingredients are combined.

Fold in the apples and the pecans. The mixture will hold together and may appear as though having too much apples. That is what we are after, as these apples will soften and shrink during the baking, lending their juices to the cooking batter around them, making it all the more moist and flavoursome.

Transfer the batter into the prepared baking pan, and distribute as evenly as possible.

Bake the cake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the centre. Remove from the oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely. You must allow this cake to cool, or it will fall apart if you attempt to flip it while still hot. Once cooled, slide a knife around the edges to loosen the cake, flip over to a serving plate, sprinkle with icing sugar and place the apple wafers along the top.

Serve with extra wafers on the side for those who wish to have more.

You can also serve with some thickened cream or my way: with fruit salad on the side.

Store this cake in the fridge, covered for up to 4 days. That is if it lasts this long!

Good to know – The Muscovado Sugar gives this cake a caramel colour and hints of caramel and molasses flavours. These flavours pair very well with the apple and spices used here and hence the choice.

 

Are you ready for summer?

It sounds funny, asking this question! I remember back when we were kids in school, summer was the time when we were off school. That meant no homework, we stay up late, we go out every day of the week, we watch TV whenever we liked, we are outdoors most of the time. Then ever since I was over the student part of life, I never thought I would be as excited about all these very things. But here is the thing about having very young children in school: You end up doing homework again (they still can’t do it on their own), you end up sleeping early during school days, not only because you take them to school early in the morning, but also because you are knackered after all the homeworks and play time! During school days, there is activities, play dates, birthdays, drop offs, pick ups, projects and all sorts of things that will have you driving around all day, that when they are off to sleep, you feel dizzy! It goes on and on.

So Yeay! It is summer break! (Saying it like a school child, jumping up and down lol) Are you?

 

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