I made a cake last week for a communal dinner – First Friday Feast – where the theme was “from the ground up”. Lots of ideas sprang to mind, and I eventually settled on the orchard theme, apples and almonds that grow in the orchard, and are obviously above the ground. The orchard theme is particularly appropriate as Sydney finally heads into autumn after a sweltering summer.
The recipe is a version of Diana Henry’s Swedish Apple, Almond and Cardamom Cake from her column in the UK Telegraph, see here for the original recipe.
I substituted cinnamon and a little ginger for the cardamom as I’m not a huge cardamom fan. I currently have some lovely fragrant cinnamon from Vietnam, which I love using in bakes.
Here’s the recipe. I served the cake with some lovely glacé fruit, orange slices and apricots and fresh herbs. I also made my own version of muscatels by slow roasting some black grapes in a very low oven. Possibly not worth the time, when muscatels are so readily available, but they certainly had a lovely caramelised flavour.
150g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
175g light brown sugar
50g marzipan, broken into little chunks
3 large free range eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon almond extract
4 Granny Smith apples
175g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
75g ground almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons milk, if needed
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons apricot jam, to glaze
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Butter and line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the pieces of marzipan – the marzipan will break down and become amalgamated. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the almond extract.
Peel, core and chop two of the apples Into small pieces and stir them into the mixture.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt, and add the ground almonds, cinnamon and ginger. Gently fold this mixture into the batter, adding it in three lots. If the mixture is really stiff, add the milk.
Peel the other apples, halve, core and cut them into thin wedges. Toss the wedges with the sugar.
Spoon the batter into the springform tin and arrange the apple wedges on top in concentric circles. Be neat, but no need to be too fussy!
Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cover the top with aluminium foil if it looks like it’s browning too quickly.
Cool the cake for about 15 minutes, then remove the outer ring. By sliding a knife between the cake and the base, carefully move the cake from the base. Quickly invert the cake and peel off the baking paper, and invert again. Carefully put the cake right side up on to a plate and leave to cool completely.
To glaze cake, put the apricot jam in a small saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water and heat until the jam is liquid. You will need to sieve the jam to make sure it’s smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the jam over the top of the cake.
Serve with glacé fruit or fresh fruit or even some bunches of green herbs. Cake is always good with whipped cream or ice cream!