This cake was amazing!!! I loved every single bite of it. Soft, moist crumb soaked with a sugar-lemon-brandy mixture, fruity and tangy apple filling, velvety white chocolate-cream cheese icing and then the caramelized apples on top… I am telling you I was in heaven and I was not alone up there.
If you want to treat your dear ones with a really special cake this Christmas, this should be it. The cinnamon, ginger and sultanas in the cake make it really christmasy, the icing will make you think of snow and Santa Claus and if you bring this to a Christmas lunch, you will not need bring any other present, I think. This cake is a present in itself.
As sorry as I am, I have to admit that I am not the creator of this glorious recipe. I found it in the October issue of the Good Food magazine (I think I mentioned before how much I love Good Food) and it was love at first sight, I knew I have to make this as soon as possible and I did. Before October was to an end, this cake was baked for my best friend’s birthday and it was eaten in a flash.
It was the first time I made the cake and I think one should not dare too much when baking, better to stick to the recipe if you don’t want any unpleasant surprises. That is the reason why I did not change the recipe the way I would have with a more common cake or some savory dish. The only things I changed concerned the caramelized apples and the sort of flour used. I was supposed to cut the apples into spheres using a melon baller, unfortunately I do not have one and couldn’t find one on such a short notice, so I just caramelized the tiniest apples I found in my cellar. They were lovely but still a bit too large, so the apple – caramel ratio was not ideal, the apples had a bit too much apple and bite and not enough caramel. Using the spheres will lead to a better result, I am sure, so I will buy a melon baller the first chance I get, if it is only to be able to make this cake properly the next time.
Concerning the flour: I used all-purpose flour and baking powder instead of self-raising flour, which is not common in Germany. I suggest you use my variation as well, unless you live in the UK. I have researched and found out that self-raising flour in the UK is different from self-raising flour in the US. So better go the safe way and use what I did, it worked perfectly.
So if you like a bit of a challenge in the kitchen and want to really delight everybody around you with what I would call “a perfect Christmas cake” do try this one, you will not regret it.
- For the cake:
- 150 ml/2/3 cup vegetable oil + extra for greasing
- 175 g/ 6 oz dark brown soft sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 250 g/ 9 oz apples, weighed after peeling and coring
- 200 g/ 7 oz all-purpose flour *
- 3 teaspoons baking powder *
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 25 g/ 1 oz rolled oats
- 50 g/ 2 oz ground almonds
- 100 g/ 4 oz sultanas
- zest 1 organic lemon
- For the filling and decoration:
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 apples, not too large
- 25 g/ 1 oz butter
- 50 g/ 2 oz dark brown soft sugar
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 100 g/ 4 oz caster sugar
- For the syrup:
- 75 g/ 2 ½ oz dark brown soft sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon brandy or water
- For the icing:
- 50 g/ 2 oz butter
- 100 g/ 4 oz white chocolate
- 280 g/ 9.9 oz cream cheese
- 1 vanilla pod, the seeds
- 170 g/ 6 oz Greek yogurt
- You will need:
- 8 long wooden skewers to make the toffee apples
- For the cakes:
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 springform tins, 18 cm/ inch with baking paper and brush with some oil.
- Grate the apples and set aside. Sift together the flour and the baking powder and set aside. (No need to sift if you are using UK self-raising flour).*
- Whisk the sugar and the eggs until glossy and pale. Slowly pour in the oil keeping the motor running. Add the grated apples, then fold in the flour mixture, cinnamon, ginger, bicarbonate of soda, oats, almonds, sultanas and lemon zest. Weigh the mixture and divide it evenly between the two springform tins.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Apple filling:
- Place the lemon juice into a large bowl and fill halfway with cold water. Peel the apples. If you want to make the tiny spheres for the decoration, use the melon baller to cut out 8 spheres. Place them in the lemon water and either cut spheres or chop the rest of the apples into cubes of about the same size as the spheres. Place them in the lemon water as well.
- In a medium saucepan combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup, cinnamon and 200 ml/ scant 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Take the chopped apples out of the water, but leave the spheres (8 of them) for the decoration there until you are ready to use them, it will stop them discoloring. Give the rest of the apples to the pan, bring again to a boil and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes until the apples are soft but still holding their shape, and a thick syrup starts to form. The cooking time depends on the sort of apple you use, so keep checking, you don't want them to become mushy. Allow to cool completely and chill until needed.
- For the syrup:
- Stir together the 75 g dark brown sugar, the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of brandy or water. Take the cooked cakes out of the oven, prick holes with a skewer and drizzle the syrup over. Leave the cakes to cool completely in the tin.
- For the icing:
- Make the icing while the cakes cool. Set a small heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don't allow the water to boil). Chop the white chocolate finely, and place it in the bowl together with the butter. Let them melt and become glossy while keeping an eye on them all the time. It is very important that the water does not begin to boil. Mine did the first time and it spoilt the mixture, I had to throw it away and start again.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl, add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Split the vanilla bean lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add them to this mixture**. Fold in the Greek yogurt. When the mixture is cool, chill until needed.
- To assemble the cake:
- Remove the cakes from the tins. Place one cake on the cake stand. Place the chocolate- cream cheese filling in a large piping bag. Pipe half of the white chocolate on top using a very large round nozzle. Scatter the cooked apples on top, along with a drizzle of their syrup. Place in the fridge to firm up for 15 minutes. Add the second cake on top, pipe the rest of the chocolate mixture on the cake and place the cake in the fridge until ready to serve. It will keep for 2 days in this phase.
- To make the toffee apples (not compulsory, but they really look nice):
- Brush a baking tray with some oil. Dry the reserved apple spheres very thoroughly using kitchen paper. Insert a long wooden skewer into each one.
- Place the caster sugar in a small saucepan and let the sugar melt while stirring often. Keep cooking until it has become golden caramel. Remove from heat. You can keep reheating it very carefully if it
- starts to harden before you are finished with the apples.
- Hold an apple ball by the skewer and dip it into the hot caramel, twisting around to coat it all over.
- Slowly lift it out of the liquid and pause shortly before placing it on the tray. This will allow a long drip of caramel to set hard and create a spike. Repeat with the rest of the apple spheres.
- When the apples are set and cool enough to handle (it will not take long), remove the skewers. Place the apples on top of the cake with the spike pointing upwards. Serve immediately.
**Do not discard the empty vanilla bean, chop it and place it in a jar filled with sugar, mix well and leave it to infuse the sugar. You can use it then for cakes and desserts. You can even blend the two ingredients together in a strong blender and obtain a powdered vanilla sugar.