Is there still time to talk about cinnamon apple cake? Have we all switched out of harvest mode and directly into there-are-so-many-Christmas-cookies,-how-will-I-find-the-time mode already? On these islands it’s more like why-would-you-eat-anything-other-than-mince-pies-in-December mode, but I’m wondering if we can still sneak this one in. I hope so.
I know I should have mentioned this cake in October, when an incredibly tastey, autumnal and not-Halloween-inspired cake would have been more appreciated, but life got in the way. But I need to share it with you before it’s too late, because it was a favorite this year. We brought a half batch to a dinner party the first time round (the recipe calls for a lot of cake), and I did the thing you’re never meant to do – praised my husband’s cake audibly and more often than the other dessert offerings. This could have been a sign that I should get out of the house more, but I took it as a sign that this cake was worth repeating.
The second time round, I made the full batch and split it between the two pans you see here. I also used half the amount of sugar (!), because although I adored the first cake, it felt like we could absolutely scale back and let the apple flavor shine through some more. The larger cake went directly in the freezer, wrapped tightly in plastic and ready for a journey to Portaferry as a treat for the writing retreat members. The smaller one, still warm from the oven received the seal of approval at our book group that evening.
This recipe, as so many success stories from our kitchen, came from Smitten Kitchen, and although its history is less dramatic than originally thought, arrived in that kitchen on a beautifully hand written recipe card. If you’re interested, this is a lovely and engaging write up of Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, which I hope you’ll read when you get the chance.
I reduced the sugar by half, and we did not miss it (the recipe below reflects that change). I used a mixture of apples, whichever were closest to hand, but the original suggestion is MacIntosh – something with a bit of bite. The full recipe made two loaf tins, but the original was baked in a tube pan (for a tube pan hack, try this). This might have led to a lighter cake, but our loaf tins worked really well!
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups flour (the original is all-purpose flour, I used plain flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil (we used sunflower, but olive oil would be great)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Heat oven to 175 C/350 F degrees. Grease a tube pan or two loaf tins with butter or oil.
Toss apple pieces with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, ensuring that all ingredients are incorporated fully (there may be pockets of dry ingredients if you don’t scrap down the sides of the bowl).
Pour half of batter into prepared pan(s). Spread half of the apple mixture, including the juices, over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. (**Watch the timing on this if you use different pans. Just keep checking back and rotating the pans in your oven to make sure they don’t get dried out or too brown on top.**)
Cool completely in the pan(s) before turning out onto a plate to serve. This cake is delicious the next day when the flavors have settled in together. It also freezes well – wrap tightly in plastic wrap/clingfilm and remove from freezer about 12 hours before you plan to eat it.