Saturday, September 1, 2012

apple cake & the first day of spring

Today was the first day of Spring. It was perfect: rainy and cold in the morning before the clouds cleared completely to let in that glorious golden sunshine that belongs only to the warmer months. I spent the day with the windows open, listening to Stereolab records while doing weekly chore stuff - cleaning and washing and sweeping and shopping. It's funny how those things in Winter can generate suicidal tendencies, but when the sun is shining, they feel therapeutic. I guess that's why the idea of Spring cleaning is so ubiquitous: nearly everyone is in some kind of hibernation in the Wintertime. 

Foodie-types look forward to there actually being more food around: new Spring vegetables like asparagus and all types of peas and beans. I get that. Food shopping can get a little depressing towards the end of Winter, when you tend to feel you've had more than enough orange and brown coloured things in your diet. But today I wanted to celebrate by letting the breeze weave the smells of sunshine and mixed spice through my little home while Quincy followed me around as I dusted for puffballs, dropping more puffballs for me to dust. So I baked an apple cake and put it on the window sill to cool. 

Actually I made this cake last week too, when so soon-to-be-parents Tash and Leith came over for afternoon tea. We spent the afternoon laughing and eating slice after slice, moving from coffee to tea to wine as the sun went down in that languid way so typical of Sundays. Later that evening I decided that I should make the cake again soon, and Tash went into labour. 

In addition to its labour-inducing properties, this cake is one of those lovely afternoon tea cakes that is pleasantly spicy, full of fruit and pretty to look at. It plays on that well-worn coupling of apple and cinnamon by concentrating the apple and elevating the spice element to a new multi-dimensional level. Rather than using cinnamon (which would also be delicious in this recipe), I swapped in my latest purchase from Gewürzhaus - an Apple Cake Spice blend containing cassia, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, pepper, rosehip, rose petal and chamomile - and the result was very elegant and very delicious. You can buy blends from Gewürzhaus online, but if you want to swap the spice in this recipe for cinnamon, I've included suggested quantities below. 

It's a very welcoming cake, which I felt was particularly fitting. Welcome to this world Max. And welcome to Spring. Lots of people have been waiting for you both. 


Apple Cake
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
185g (6.5oz) butter, softened
1 teaspoon Gewürzhaus Apple Cake Spice, or 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved and cored
1 teaspoon sugar 
1/2 teaspoon Gewürzhaus Apple Cake Spice, or ground cinnamon
1/4 cup apricot jam
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Line the base of a 22cm (8.5 inch) springform tin with non-stick baking paper.

2. Place the butter, spice and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light, pale and creamy.
3. Add the eggs one by one and beat well between each addition. Sift the flour and baking powder over the butter and egg mixture. Add milk and beat on low until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared tin.
4. Take each apple half and cut a row of deep slits - avoiding bottom - and arrange over the top of the cake mixture. Press gently, but not to bottom of tin. Combine the sugar and remaining spice and sprinkle over the apples.
5. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. In the meantime, warm apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat.

6. When 50 minutes have passed, remove the cake and crush with the warm apricot jam. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cake will be shiny and golden brown. Remove springform ring and cool before cutting. 


  1. Replies
    1. How I love that dress you draped! Seriously, can't stop thinking about it. You're the bomb.


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