Sweet sweet Friday: Apple Cake

Yesterday afternoon I was listening to some expert on the radio talk about how they were hoping to make a success of exporting New Zealand apples to Russia. He had various reasons for why this was likely, but the main one seemed to be that New Zealand apples were such a great product etc etc. I thought about this a lot as I bit into yet another disappointing new season New Zealand apple from the supermarket. When we lived in London I bought New Zealand apples religiously, relishing every crunchy bite even though I knew they had a carbon footprint bigger than the Abominable Snowman. Are apples like lamb, and fish, and clever young people – do the best ones get sent overseas, never to return?

Luckily there are still a few growers harvesting proper, old-fashioned, apples. Last weekend I bought a bag of tart, crisp Cox’s from the market and they were perfect. The Small Girl dropped a few in her excitement to eat one (I ate a bag of apples a day when I was pregnant, it’s finally showing up), making them perfect for this cake.

Spicy Autumn Apple Cake
This is a slightly tweaked recipe from the newspaper. Well, it’s from the sister paper of the paper I work for (which is to say, it’s owned by the same company rather than being a feminist publication. As if!)
Make more tea than you need the next time you make a pot, then use the extra for this cake. Use oil – a really delicious walnut oil would be amazing – rather than butter if you wish to veganise it.
One last tip: get the crumble topping all ready to go before you add the dry ingredients to the cake, because cake batters don’t like sitting around waiting.

1 1/2 cups hot tea
1 1/2 cups giant raisins and diced prunes (I used about 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped prunes) or the dried fruit of your choice)
1 cup whole oats
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1Tbsp date syrup (or use maple, or golden syrup)
1 cup peeled, diced apple (about 2 medium apples)
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour (or normal flour)
1 cup white spelt (or normal) flour
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg (preferably a good grinding of a whole nutmeg)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Crumble topping:
50g butter, melted (or oil)
1/3 cup each rolled oats, coconut, wholemeal flour, chopped nuts (ie Brazil, almond, pecan, walnut) and brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Put the raisins, rolled oats, date syrup and brown sugar in a large bowl, then pour over the hot tea. Stir, then allow to go cold. Hang the washing out, make a phone call, read a story – it doesn’t take long.
Melt the butter for the topping and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line a springform 24cm tin.
Add the diced apple and lemon zest to the cold tea mixture, then sift over the dry ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly, then tip into the prepared tin. .
For the topping, mix the melted butter (or oil) with the other ingredients, then sprinkle over the waiting cake batter. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake is ‘springy’ when you press it with a finger. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, then ease it out of the tin. Don’t turn it upside down onto a plate unless you want to pick bits of topping off the floor.

Hope you all have a sweet, sweet Friday and a delicious weekend x



  1. March 24, 2011 / 6:59 pm

    Great recipe for a lovely Autumnal cake. Will need to remember if for our Autumn. For some reason, the fact it has tea in it makes me unusually excited about it. I'm a tea-holic – no hope!
    And I religiously buy British apples to help with the carbon footprint thing but every now and again I will get a lovely New Zealand apple and they are much nicer! Maybe we do get all your best ones.

  2. March 24, 2011 / 7:18 pm

    I love this recipe, only problem is I now have to wait two whole season's before I can make it … although then again, I live in Edinburhg after all lol

  3. March 24, 2011 / 9:16 pm

    well, i get it, the apples are good but buying locally and seasonally is really important so here lies the rub eh?

    I will stick to local apples but use your divine recipe… i think the added tea must make it really moist but still quite earthy. brilliant stuff!

  4. March 24, 2011 / 9:37 pm

    I love the sound of the crumble topping on this. It combines two of my favourite things – cake and apple crumble!

  5. March 24, 2011 / 11:42 pm

    Fantastic cake! I forgot that it's now autumn there. I much prefer autumn/winter than spring/summer. I thought I share this irrelevant piece of information. 🙂

  6. March 25, 2011 / 12:21 am

    This cake sounds truly delicious. I like that it can be easily adapted into a vegan offering too.

    Ugh, floury old apples are horrible – I remember being surprised to see NZ apples when I was in the UK, and also at how delicious they were compared to the ones we got most of the time. Hmmmmm…

  7. March 25, 2011 / 12:43 am

    I think the apples have been terrible this season – not sure why but hopefully there is a good reason for it!

    This looks like a great recipe and a lovely cake. Where do you buy Date Syrup from? I have never heard of it before, but my husband is addicted to all things date, so he would love it.

  8. March 25, 2011 / 2:05 am

    Thanks everyone – am sure you Northern Hemisphere bloggers can still get your hands on an apple or two (and don't try to pretend it's too hot for baking cakes!)

    Lou and Laura, glad I'm not the only one to think NZ apples have been crap so far.
    Lou, I buy my date syrup from Moshims in Newtown, so I'm sure you'll be able to find it in a similar ethnic food outfit. You can probably find it in organic shops too. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, you should buy some and then make my amazingly good date, peanut butter and chocolate fudge…

  9. March 25, 2011 / 9:06 pm

    Did you know how much I love apples and apple cake? This truly looks wonderful.

  10. March 26, 2011 / 7:23 am

    Wow this sounds good – what a great combination of ingredients. But it's no longer apple season over here so I'm going to have to remember this for the Autumn. But what a fabulous idea of yours to use walnut oil in cakes. I must see if I can get hold of some.

  11. March 26, 2011 / 8:18 pm

    Yum, looks great. I think NZ apples were just announced to be the biggest sellers here in the uk. Why don't you insist they keep them there, for you? And we'll eat our lovely natives, over here? oh if it were that easy!

  12. March 26, 2011 / 9:26 pm

    Australian apple season has just started and my apple-mad family can't get enough of them. For the first time we are also importing Chinese apples but they won't be finding their way into my basket! Will definately give this recipe a go -thanks.

  13. March 27, 2011 / 5:18 pm

    Greetings from Southern California

    I just stopped by to say hello and may God richly bless you today 🙂

    When you have the time come by and visit me. ~Ron

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