Seeing as my last post (talking about shopping for bikinis) was definitely not ‘in season’ for most of you reading, I thought I’d dedicate this next week on the blog to all things seasonal and celebrate a little of the festive ho-ho’s, a little of the party sparkles, and a little of the Christmas cheer. Just because I have no need for a Crimbo tree this year and am, for the first time, gearing up for a Christmas dinner on the beach, doesn’t mean that this blog can’t be decorated with its usual yuletide content. I also fully appreciate that my Christmas plans this year are in the minority and most of you might appreciate some festive posts in the countdown to the holidays, so stay tuned for a week of inspiration to get you in the mood! On that note can you believe it’s only 12 days until Christmas? How exactly did that happen?
I’m kicking off my ‘Tis the Season’ week with a little festive bake, because frankly it’s been far too long since I donned my pinny and made a mess of the kitchen, and if I’m missing out on Turkey this year, I’m sure gonna indulge in as much of the sweet stuff as I can in the next week.
I don’t know about you, but to me nothing says Christmas more than the smell of cinnamon wafting from the oven and filling up the flat. I adore it. And even more so when teamed with apples, what is it about that combination which is so mouth wateringly good? For me, when it comes to winter puddings they need to be three things – warm, sticky and filling. Cold, light and pretty desserts have their place – but it’s not at Christmas. My motto for festive baking is – the messier it looks, the better it will taste – which is just as well really as this particular Spiced Apple and Cinnamon cake isn’t going to win any beauty contests. It will however taste delicious on a cold winters day, straight from the oven and tucked into with a large spoon and a dollop of ice cream. It’s also a great dish to bake just before you have friends around, as it makes your whole home smell delicious (and as Christmassy as possible).
Keep reading for the full recipe (I got the original idea from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook and adapted it to suit my own greedy festive tendencies) and for more baking ideas see my baking archive.
What you’ll need
For the sponge
200g of ground hazelnuts or almonds
360g unsalted butter
225g light brown sugar
pinch of salt
3 medium eggs
400g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
For the filling
30g light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp cornflour
3 firm apples
4 medium Bramley cooking apples
How it’s done
1. Preheat your oven to 160C
2. Cream together the butter, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. Lightly beat your eggs seperately and then add in to creamed mix gradually.
3. In a seperate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and almond powder together, and then fold gently into the creamed mix. (If too thick, add another egg to loosen the mix)
4. Place two thirds of the batter into a square/ rectangular cake tin or oven proof dish (making sure to butter it first to prevent burning) and spread out evenly, allowing the edges to be a little higher to hold in the filling.
5. For the filling, mix the brown sugar, spices and cornflour in a bowl before peeling, coring and chopping the apples into small chunks and tossing them in the spice mix.
6. Scatter the filling over the spread out batter, filling it right to the edges and pushing it into the mix to make a gooey centre.
7. Use the remaining cake batter for the top – you can be precise and use a piping bag to pipe a lattice structure, or like me just pile it on with your hands for an uneven look. Alternatively you could cover the top completely with more sponge but personally I like it when the apples goo out a little.
8. Place the cake in the oven and cook for around an hour until the crust in golden brown and the apples have softened.
9. Remove from the oven, dust with icing sugar and cinnamon and then dig in with a large serving spoon. Serve hot with ice cream or custard… and serve again cold with cream.
The almonds in this cake make for a frangipane style taste, and the apples make the sponge light and moist. Warm, sticky and filling – just what you need this holiday season. Are you a fan of apple and cinnamon flavours?