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.
Simple Wholemeal Apple Cake
- 350 g sharp eating apples such as cox unprepared weight, 12oz/3 medium
- 225 g self-raising wholemeal flour 8oz
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 115 g butter 1 stick, firm but not fridge cold, cubed
- 115 g light brown soft sugar 2/3 cup
- 1 large egg beaten
- 110 ml milk 1/3 + 1/8 cup, more if needed
- 1 1/2 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.