As much as I enjoy making towering, intricately decorated layer cakes, the cakes that I most enjoy eating, and crave most often, are generally a far simpler affair. The kind of cakes that aren’t too pretty to look at, but you feel much less guilty about eating a massive wodge of for a mid-morning snack. I had been craving apple cake for a couple of weeks and when the tree in the garden yielded a few ready-to-pick apples that weren’t great for eating fresh, but were good for cooking with, I finally got round to satisfying the craving with this simple wholemeal apple cake.
This is a moist cake filled with chunks of fresh, tangy apple; the wholemeal flour gives it a hearty texture and the demarera sugar on top lends a nice crunch. It is very easy to make, only uses one bowl and there is no need to use an electric mixer; the butter is rubbed into the dry ingredients, as if you were making pastry, then the rest of the ingredients are simply stirred in with a spatula. It keeps well in an airtight container (though only lasted two days in our house) and makes a lovely snack, or even breakfast. To make it a little more indulgent it could be served warm with custard or cream, though I like it best as is, with a big mug of tea.
- 350g (unprepared weight) (12oz/3 medium) sharp eating apples such as cox
- 225g (8oz) self-raising wholemeal flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 115g (1 stick) butter, firm but not fridge cold, cubed
- 115g (2/3 cup) light brown soft sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 110ml (1/3 + ⅛ cup) milk, more if needed
- 1½ tbsp demarera sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease an 18cm/7in round deep cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
- Peel, core and dice the apples, set aside. Mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice in a large bowl;add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles course sand and no chunks of butter remain.
- Stir in the sugar, then the apples. Mix in the egg followed by the milk. The mixture should be quite stiff but if it seems dry add a little more milk until it reaches a reluctant dropping consistency.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level. bake for about 1 hour, but start checking for doneness after 45 minutes; it should be firm and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Cover loosely with foil partway through baking if the top begins to darken too much.
- Remove the cake from the oven and immediately sprinkle with demarera sugar. leave to cool in the tin for half an hour or so then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.