I have a soft spot for Rick Stein. His recipes can be infuriatingly precise (who measures garlic in grams when cloves will do?) and I’m sure there’s something to be criticised in his Far Eastern Odysseys, but the books are beautifully photographed and the recipes are so real – when you read them on the page you can already taste them. His Spain book is just beautiful, full of wonderful dishes – so much more than tapas and paella.
I have been making this cake for years, and it never disappoints. Its a perfect dessert cake, eaten still warm with cream, and great over the next few days. I use cooking apples to get that sharp tartness, but this isn’t a particularly sweet cake so it doesn’t matter too much. I almost never peel apples when I cook them, but that’s a matter of taste.
I don’t drink cider much these days. In the distant past I was a huge fan. So many happy nights at the Gardies with jugs of cider. So many bottles of Scrumpy at parties. Then I grew up, I suppose. I really dislike all of the flavoured ciders on the market these days, really sweet and artificial. If you’re making this cake just use plain apple cider. Fortunately, I got Tutū cider for $2.99 a 500ml bottle on special at the supermarket and also fortunately, this cake only needs about 200ml of cider, so there was a wee bonus while I waited for things to cook. Delicious. I would buy Tutū cider again for drinking. Also, its made by the whānau (family) behind Tohu wines, which is the world’s first Māori-owned wine business which is another reason to check it out.
This cake has a high apple-batter ratio. When layering it into the tin it looks as if there isn’t enough batter, but just trust that it will turn out fine. It always does. You have to make a drizzle syrup by boiling down 150ml of cider until there’s just a couple of tablespoons left, and you stir through some icing sugar. It takes forever but it is definitely worth it. Don’t miss this step. Trust me. The slightly burned bits on the top and side of the cake are deliciously caramelised and not at all a sign of failure. That said, keep an eye on it while its in the oven and cover with tin foil when the time seems right.
I took this cake to work for morning tea once. Everyone was impressed. Make it and you will see why.
I should add, because I am going to boast, that this cake was the dessert to follow up a pear, rocket and blue cheese tart. Autumn fruit FTW.
- Deliciousness : A real crowd pleaser. 10/10.
- Recipe complexity: Its pretty easy. Chop the apples, soak ’em in cider cinnamon and cream, make the batter, layer, cook.
- Availability/price of ingredients: You’ll probably need to head to the supermarket before you start this one. One bottle of cider (not the flavoured kind), some cream, and some ground almonds, and any sort of apple, (and flour and sugar and eggs and so on, obviously) and away you go.
- Similarity of final cake to picture/description: Sneaky old Stein didn’t include a picture! His apples looked prettier than mine.
- Would I bake it again? This cake is on repeat already.