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Apple and Raisin Loaf Cake

Apple and Raisin Loaf Cake

Apple and Raisin Loaf Cake, perfect for a rainy autumn day

I was over at my parent’s place this weekend because I was looking after all the sick people there. Mostly this just involved feeding people, something I rather enjoy. I knocked up this simple little cake because there were lots of apples to be eaten or used, and a slice of comforting apple cake on an autumnal day is surely good medicine even if you’re not feeling poorly.

Apple and Raisin Loaf Cake

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g self raising flour
  • half tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eating apples (I used Pink Lady), cored and chopped into small chunks
  • generous handful raisins

Heat the oven to 170C and grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat, then add about half the flour and mix to incorporate, then mix in the second egg followed by the remaining flour, baking powder and cinnamon (if you’re a big cinnamon fan, I’d say chuck in an extra half teaspoon). Mix well, then stir in the apple chunks and raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about an hour. It’s done when golden and it springs back when pressed with a fingertip. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about half an hour before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Apple Pie with Orange Pastry

Apple Pie with Orange Pastry

Packed with fruity flavour, inside and out – Apple Pie with Orange Pastry

As I write this, there are 100 days until Christmas. That’s still a way off, but the weather has certainly become more autumnal and so has my baking. Following a visit to Middle Farm last week, where I stocked up on cheese, pear cider and apples, I decided to make an apple pie to take to family lunch at the weekend. I had some oranges that were looking a little sad so I used them to add more flavour to the pastry and I added some spices to my apples. The result was a tasty pie that put everyone in mind of Christmas flavours – this could be a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t like Christmas pudding.

This recipe will make one large pie, enough to feed 8-10 people. If your pie dish isn’t that big you won’t need so many apples. You can always freeze any left-over pastry to use another time (maybe to make some mince pies).

Apple Pie with Orange Pastry or Christmas Apple Pie

For the pastry:

  • 460g plain flour
  • 220g cold butter, cubed
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • finely grated zest of 2 large or 3 average oranges
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 4 egg yolks

In a large bowl, rub together the flour and butter with your finger tips until you have a breadcrumb texture. Try to do this as quickly and lightly as possible; or if you have a food processor you can pulse the ingredients until you achieve the same result. Into the bowl add the sugar and orange zest, then use a blunt ended knife (butter or dinner knife) to mix everything together by making cutting motions across the bowl and turning the bowl as you go. Lightly beat together the yolks and orange juice and add most, but not all, to the dry ingredients – you may not need all the liquid to bring the dough together, but add more if necessary. Continue to mix the liquid in with the same cutting motions of the blunt knife. If you need to, in the final stages bring the dough together and make sure it’s evenly mixed with a light knead with your hands. Form the dough into a ball and flatten a little into a thick disc (it will make it easier to roll out later), then wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Once chilled, cut off about a third of the pastry to use as the pastry lid; wrap it back up in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed. With the remaining two thirds, roll out on a lightly floured surface until big enough to comfortably line your pie dish with a little overhang. Your pastry should be about the thickness of a pound coin. If you find it breaks or you get gaps, just patch it up with any pieces of pastry that overhang the edge of your pie dish. Cover and chill in the fridge again for at least half an hour.

For the apple filling:

  • About a kilo of apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices (I used a mix of Bramleys and some eating apples from my cousin’s garden, but use whatever kind you like)
  • 60g sugar (I used a mix of dark brown and caster sugar, but any will do)
  • 40g cornflour
  • half tsp cinnamon
  • half tsp mixed spice
  • 10g ground almonds
  • 1 egg and a little caster sugar to glaze the pie

Before you begin prepping your apples, heat your oven to 190C and put a baking tray in the oven. You’ll put your pie dish on the hot tray so the base of the pie heats quickly.

Put the slices of apple in a big bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, cornflour and spices. Mix with your hands until all the apple slices are coated.

Take the pastry lined pie dish out of the fridge. Sprinkle the ground almonds all over the base of the pie – this will help to soak up any juice and prevent the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’! Rather than just tipping your apples in to the pie, try and place the slices in neatly; you’ll end up with a more densely packed pie. The apple layer should come to just below the rim of the dish at the edges, but can be higher in the centre in order to give a nice domed pie. You may find you have sugary, spicy liquid left in the bowl but just discard rather than adding it to the pie – you have all the flavour you need in there already.

Roll out your remaining piece of pastry on a floured surface until it’s big enough to cover the pie (again, it should be about the thickness of a pound coin); it can be helpful to use the rolling pin to pick the pastry up to transfer to the pie. Use a fork or your fingers to seal/crimp the edges of the pastry together. Trim any excess pastry – you can make decorations out of any little pieces, maybe some apple or leaf shapes. Beat the egg and brush the top of the pie, then sprinkle over a little caster sugar. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Check after about 25 minutes and if your pastry is nicely golden brown, cover it with a little tin foil to prevent the edges browning too much.

This would be delicious hot, cold or warm, served with cream, custard or ice cream.

Apple Pie with Orange Pastry or Christmas Apple Pie

A great seasonal dessert that would be a great alternative to Christmas pudding

With the egg whites left over from this recipe, freeze them in a sealed freezer bag (write on the bag so you know what it is) and use them another time to make a meringue based dessert. Click here for some ideas.

American Pancakes with Apple

American Style Pancakes with Apple

American Style Pancakes with Apple, served with Bacon and Maple Syrup

Some time last year I had a vivid dream about eating American style pancakes that had apple in, served with bacon. I had to make the dream a reality and fortunately it turned out they were lovely. These would make a great breakfast or brunch dish; serve with apple compote, berries and Greek yoghurt or (if you have any sense) bacon and maple syrup.

American Style Apple Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • half tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 130ml milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 1 eating apple, skin on, grated
  • a little oil for frying

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together. In another bowl or a jug mix the milk and egg together until well combined, then add the melted butter and mix again. Pour this liquid over the flour, beating in with a fork until you get a smooth batter. Add the grated apple and give a stir to combine. Let this mixture stand for a couple of minutes before you begin frying.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan – a medium heat is best so that the pancakes cook through without getting too browned. Drop the heaped tablespoons of the batter and cook for about a minute until set then carefully flip over to cook the other side of the pancake. Serve these golden beauties while still warm, with your choice of topping.

Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake

Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake

Moist and sticky Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake

One of my favourite things in the world is salted caramel. If you haven’t tried it, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. It’s like normal caramel but the salt intensifies the flavour and makes it less sickly sweet. Whenever I’m shopping I’m constantly on the look out for all things salted caramel flavoured, or just caramel products that I can add salt to. Waitrose came up trumps in the caramel stakes recently, where I bought Bonne Maman Confiture de Caramel (caramel spread that I have to use every ounce of will power to not eat straight from the jar) and Vahine Nappage Caramel (a liquid caramel sauce), both of which I’ve used in this recipe. If you can’t find caramel syrup, substitute golden syrup; you can easily replace the caramel spread with Carnation Caramel which is widely available.

Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake

Ingredients:

  • 150g butter
  • 75g soft brown sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp liquid caramel or golden syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • half tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 large eating apples (I used Pink Lady)
  • 3 heaped tbsp caramel
  • couple of large pinches sea salt

Heat oven to 170C and grease and line the base of a 9″ loose bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper. Cream together the butter, sugars, liquid caramel or golden syrup and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg, followed by half the flour then the second egg and the remaining flour, baking powder, cinnamon and one large pinch of salt. Add the milk and give it another mix until smooth. Grate one of the apples into the mix, stirring until everything is well combined.

Finely slice the second apple and arrange the slices in a circle on the base of your prepared tin (you might find any little off cuts useful for covering the middle of the pan). Dollop the caramel in the centre of your tin and spread out a little with a spatula – it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t reach the edge of tin at all as it will spread as it heats in the oven. Sprinkle the remaining pinch of sea salt over the caramel and apples in the tin, then spoon the cake mix on top and smooth it out so everything is well covered. Try and spread more of the cake mix towards the edges of the tin so there’s a bit of a dip in the centre – what is currently the top of the cake will become the bottom so you want to compensate for it rising more in the middle so it’s as flat as possible once cooked. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until golden brown. You can tell the cake is done as it will be coming away from the edge of the tin and will spring back when you press it lightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

To serve, turn out of the tin and invert on to your serving plate, being very careful to keep your apples in place when you remove the base. I had lots of gooey, caramel goodness left on my greaseproof so I scraped it off and smeared it back on the middle of the cake – don’t want to waste any! I must also confess that as I like my salted caramel on the heavily salted side, I sprinkled just a little more on the cake just before serving.

This is particularly nice served with a dollop of cold cream or Greek yogurt, or you could warm a few tablespoons of caramel and use that as a pouring sauce.

Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake

It starts as the top, but then becomes the bottom of Upside Down Apple and Caramel Cake