Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jewish Apple Cake

First published Canberra Times 11 August 2010. When I was young I learnt a lot from my Mum while standing on a chair in the kitchen watching her cook. Mum was a great cook and always encouraged my interest in food. Migrating from Holland with her family in the 1950’s, she arrived here to find a very different culture and appreciation of food. Like many other women back in the 1960’s, she dedicated a particular day of the week for baking cakes and biscuits for our family, and if we were lucky this stash would last out the week. Many of the neighbourhood kids would front up on weekends and after school to taste the treats she had cooked during the week and she was pretty popular for her contributions to the annual Coal Point primary school fete. It was a rare occasion when any store bought biscuits or cakes passed through our front door.

This apple cake evokes many memories and was a very popular choice whenever it appeared on the menu at Red Box. Who could resist the sweet smell of cooked apples and cinnamon in the shop? A great morning or afternoon tea cake or a delicious dessert, it can be served hot or cold with custard, cream, ice cream or yoghurt but my favourite is to serve it warm with whipped vanilla bean cream. I prefer to use fresh apples, such as Fuji or Braeburn as they hold their shape well and result in a tangy fresh flavour.

The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t require an electric mixer, just a wooden spoon. This recipe makes a very generously proportioned cake, so for it to cook completely through without burning requires a large greased high sided ring cake pan lined with baking paper, on both the bottom and sides of the pan. I like to use a 27 centimetre non stick ring pan due to the cake’s proportions and cool the cake in the tin to ensure it is supported by the tin while still warm, otherwise it may topple over.

5 fresh apples
1 tblsp Dutch cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 tblsp castor sugar
1 tblsp lemon juice
3 cups sifted plain flour
1 tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and paper a 27cm non stick ring cake pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon, cloves, sugar and lemon juice and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs one at a time. Add nuts and mix till all ingredients are just incorporated, do not over mix, as the cake will be tough.

Spoon just under half the cake batter into prepared pan. Spread half of the apple and sugar mixture over it. Spoon the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Push the apples gently down with the spoon to ensure they are embedded in the batter. Bake for about 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave cake in pan till cool then remove from pan and peel off paper. Cool further on a wire rack before serving. It can be served on day of cooking although is best served on day two when the apple juices have seeped through. This moist cake keeps well in an airtight container for about a week or can be frozen and then lightly warmed through by putting in the microwave on medium for 30 seconds. 
Photo by Steve Shanahan

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