Autumn is here! Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness! I absolutely love this time of year: beautiful golden falling leaves, Halloween, fireworks, mulled cider, comforting soups and hot chocolate, warm spicy scents and a crisp chill in the morning air. The nights draw in and the cloying, sticky summer heat becomes a fading memory.
One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to go scrumping in the fields near my house. As I mentioned in my previous post, I got a fantastic haul of blackberries this year which have been incorporated into endless culinary creations, but, for me, nothing says autumn quite like fallen apples fresh from the branch. I’ve used the ones I’ve collected for various bakes and desserts but this cake is by far my favourite. I think it’s a true celebration of the season, with the slightly sour apples marrying gorgeously with the sweetness of another autumnal kitchen staple, cinnamon, and topped off with some lovely golden brown walnuts and pecans.
Although there are a few steps to it, this recipe is very simple and the result is stunning. You could use bought jam in place of the spiced apple filling I made here to save time but making it yourself is so easy and really does taste like Autumn Bliss! Why not make up some extra and put it into jars to have as a tasty treat on your toast? Cinnamon granola would also work well on top of the cake if you don’t have any cinnamon biscuits.
INGREDIENTS – makes 2 sponge layers of 8in/20cm diameter
For the cake:
- 225g/8 oz self-raising flour
- 115g/4 oz brown sugar
- 90g/3 oz caster/granulated sugar
- 225g/8 oz butter/margarine
- 4 eggs
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling/topping:
- 4-5 (approx.) green apples, e.g. Granny Smith (or scrumped ones!)
- 4 tbsp demerara/brown sugar
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 100ml/3 fl oz apple juice (or apple cider if you want to add a boozy twist!)
- 50ml/1.5 fl oz water
- 5-7 (approx.) cinnamon biscuits
- Handful of walnuts
- Handful of pecans
- Edible gold shimmer spray (optional but looks fab)
For the cake:
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line two round baking tins with parchment paper.
- Whisk the butter/margarine and sugars together in a large mixing bowl until pale, then whisk in the eggs.
- Fold in the flour, cinnamon and vanilla extract until a batter of a soft dropping consistency has formed.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins, then pop in the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the sponges comes out clean.
- When baked, transfer the cakes (still in the tins – don’t remove them until they’re cool!) onto a wire rack and get started on the jammy apple filling…
For the filling/topping:
- Peel and core the apples (and remove any brown, manky looking bits if you’re using scrumped ones), then chop them into small chunks no bigger than a 50p piece.
- Place the chunks in a large pan along with the water, apple juice, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and mixed spice and bring to the boil.
- Turn the heat down a little and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apple pieces can be easily squished with a wooden spoon. If the mixture is too tart, add a bit more sugar to taste.
- Bring to the boil a second time, then turn down the heat as before and allow to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, again stirring occasionally.
- Turn off the heat completely and allow to cool.
- Scoop out about two thirds of the mixture along with all of the visible apple chunks and spread it onto the top of one of the cooled sponges with a palette knife, then sandwich the second sponge on top. Scrape out the remaining smooth apple mixture and spread it onto the top layer.
- Crush the cinnamon biscuits with your hands until they resemble breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the top of the cake. Add the nuts and finish off with a few spritzes of edible gold shimmer spray for a truly autumnal effect. Ta-dah!