I rather enjoy getting things right. I'm sure everyone does, but I particularly like getting things more right than someone who has got paid to make up a recipe and have it published in a popular magazine. *Cough* Baked and Delicious *Cough* Every 4 weeks or so when my subscription issues arrive I always stop whatever job I'm doing and have a quick flip through mentally noting what things I would really like to try so I can compare with Mum's things when she has a look through. It's only after doing this that I calm down and read the magazines through properly. When issue 32 arrived and both Mum and I liked the sound of this cake I made it at the first opportunity and it was popular all round. However, me being my meddlesome self felt there was room for improvement. There seemed to be a lot of faffing about in the creaming method stated and although melting hard toffees with milk makes a lovely caramelly topping, it didn't seem totally necessary. So I had a play. Dad hasn't tried it yet because he has been eating boiled fruit cake but Mum said straight away that it was perfect, much better than the original, and it even had a lovely lingering smell that had waited for her to come home from work. Plus it was so much quicker and despite using less ingredients I ended up with a cake which was the same depth. I stuck to the silicone cake pan that came with that issue just for old times sake.
Here we go.
4 large eggs
200g soft margarine (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter but I'm sure any suitable for baking would be fine)
25g demerara sugar (demerara goes really well with apples to give a little hint of caramel)
175g caster sugar
150g self raising flour
125g ground almonds
1/2 tsp almond essence
1tsp baking powder
1 large bramley apple
10g flaked almonds
10g demerara sugar
*Also, cake tin roughly 9 inches square, greased and lined if not using a silicone one. You could use a larger one and get flatter cakes but you would have to adjust cooking times/temps.
Right, this method is really easy.
Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan and place all the ingredients except the last three in a bowl, preferably with the baking powder on top so it isn't in contact with any wet ingredients. (You want to keep all its rising ability in tact until you are almost ready to put the cake in the oven.)
Peel and core the bramley apple and cut into little pieces. It's hard to say a size but be careful not to get them too big or they will sink. I sort of sliced each quarter up then sliced horizontally to get little cuboid pieces then did a few random chops on the board. I'd say no bigger than 1cm x 1cm pieces. Get some more flour, a heaped dessertspoon or so, and toss the apple pieces in it. (I've no idea if this stops them from sinking but it is supposed to work with cherries.) Set the chopping board aside while you mix the cake ingredients together. Using an electic mixer start on slow until everything is combined, then scrape down the sides and continue on fast until the mixture is lighter in colour.
Working quickly but gently now so you don't knock the air back out that you have just whisked in, slide the apple pieces off the board into the bowl and fold in with a spatular or similar until the pieces are evenly distributed throughout. This is much better than the original recipe which had slices of unpeeled apple layed on top of the cake which ended up leathery and awkward to cut instead of keeping the slices in shape. Silly idea!
Pour the mixture into the tin, level the top and place the levelling implement into the bowl to lick later.
Sprinkle the 10g each of flaked almonds and sugar over the top of the cake and place in the middle of the oven. If you are using a silicone tin, you might want to put it on a baking sheet first for ease. Bake for 40-50 mins, until the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Now this is a bit I find annoying. Oven setting can vary so much you have to get to know your own and adjust timings to suit. As a guide, our oven is a fan one and I had it in for 30 mins, turned, 15 mins, then another 5 with the oven off because the tester was clean but the cake was singing a lot still.
Once you are happy the cake is done, place on a wire rack and leave for 10 minutes or so before turning out of the tin onto he rack to cool fully. You don't want to turn it out too early or it may be too fragile still and break up. Cool completely before cutting into 12 pieces.
Enjoy with a cup of tea! Or in my case a cup of barely warm milk and water that has barely been introduced to the tea bag. Whichever way you enjoy it, I hope you have fun.