And it's here. My favorite time of the year - Autumn. It's here in full swing - in Ireland it means rain, cold, strong winds, rain, short days, rain, grass changing its color from bright green to dull, brownish, rain, beautiful leaves (before they're all "torn away" from branches by the wind) and... more rain! Once it starts raining here, on the west coast of Ireland, it doesn't stop usually until the end of March (or not at all to be honest... ;) ).
Storms - I think that's one thing I'm not that keen on... I experienced good few winter storms already (one of the worst in the history - in February 2014). The wind scares me, makes me feel very uneasy, its strength and the sound - especially in the middle of dark night... There's no better place to be during the storm, than in your warm, cosy house, under the blanket, sipping some hot beverage (could even be a hot Whiskey!). Fortunately it's already November and no big storm has passed through yet, but I know it will come soon...
There's no "real winter" here, as most of us would know it. There's no "winter wonderland" scene, no hills covered with snow, and even if snow does make it appearance, it disappears within hours...
Autumn shouts apples to me! It also shouts plums and pears, but we'll talk about those on another day ;) I didn't really plan this cake, it just... appeared in my head and I made it, I actually made it while waiting for my dinner to finish cooking. I already had the oven on and thought "What a waste that I didn't prepare anything sweet to bake now...". Then I immediately thought "Stupid me, why I won't put something together now!". Quick look around the kitchen - apples, flour, butter. There's an idea! :)
I left my apples really chunky, as I wanted their texture to be present in the baked cake, I didn't want a mush. I was also quite generous with the cinnamon and other spices - as I like them, especially this time of the year, they provide me with this warm feeling, with a weird sense of comfort... The batter is a simple mix of butter, sugar, eggs and flour, but I didn't make it too sweet. Flaked almonds on top, besides looking quite pretty, give a bit of different texture within a cake - you can easily omit them if you wish to.
This is my own recipe, so it was first time I made it and next time I think I'll use a smaller baking tin. I used 23 cm round tin and for that amount of batter it was slightly too big. The cake wasn't too high and you can see "apple shapes" on top of baked cake, as that's how thin the top layer was, especially that some batter filled space between and around the apples. Next time I will use a baking tin/dish not bigger than 20 cm. Other than that - a great, quick, Autumnal cake! :)
How to make it...
- 5 large apples (like Granny Smith)
- 60 g butter
- 30 g muscavado sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (or mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 125 g soft unsalted butter
- 100 g caster sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 100 g self-raising flour
- flaked almonds, to sprinkle over the top
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Peel and core the apples, cut them into quarters. Heat the butter and sugar in a frying pan over a low heat until sugar has melted, add spices, vanilla extract and apples. Cook for few minutes only to slightly soften the fruit and coat all over with butter, sugar and spices. Set aside to cool completely. Transfer the apples with all the butter into a greased/lined baking tin.
Prepare the topping: Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, to make sure the batter is completely smooth. Fold in the flour, so it's all incorporated and pour the batter over the apples. Bake the cake for 40 minutes until well risen and golden brown, sprinkling it with almonds 10 minutes before the end of baking time (I always do it towards the end of baking, to make sure almonds won't burn). Leave to cool before serving. Enjoy with some warm custard or alone.
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