Easy and moreish apple cake

The tart fruitiness of Granny Smith apples offsets the stickily, aromatic sweetness of dates in this moreish cake.

Apple cakes almost always have a warm, homey feel and this one doesn't disappoint. I think of this as essentially a winter cake.

Both apples and lemons are in good supply and at their peak.

This is an easy cake to make; almost all of the fiddly, chopping and mixing is done in the food processor.

You simply assemble, stir and once the cake is baked, brush the glaze over the top.

The lemon glaze, although intense, gives the cake a damp moistness - it's tart and sweet but not cloying.

Although I have specified Granny Smith apples, any tart eating apple will do.

The skin of the Granny Smith apples is really quite tough so I peel them before cooking. However, if I'm using other varieties of eating apples I leave the skin on.

This is optional, peel if you wish.


Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Winter apple cake with lemon glaze

Makes 16-20 slices

200g pitted dates, halved
½ cup apple or orange juice
1 tsp baking soda (measure carefully, too much will leave a taste)
400g tart eating apples (2 large), peeled (optional) cored, cut into eighths
240g self-raising flour
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
130g dark cane sugar
60g butter, softened
2 large eggs, size 7

zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp caster sugar

Line the base of a 20cm ring tin with non stick baking paper and lightly oil the sides. Preheat the oven to 180degC Bake.

Place the dates and the juice in a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Cover and microwave on 50% power for 2 minutes until the juice is hot and the dates a little softened. Stir in the baking soda and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the spices. Set aside.

Place the pieces of apple in the food processor bowl, pulse on and off until the apples are roughly chopped.

Tip the chopped apple into the bowl containing the dates.

No need to wash the food processor bowl.

Add the sugar, softened butter and the eggs to the food processor bowl and process until smooth and well mixed. Pour into the bowl with the apples and dates and briefly stir together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, folding with a metal spoon until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Spoon into the prepared cake tin, smooth the top and bake at 180degC until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch, about 45-50 minutes.

While the cake is cooking, prepare the glaze. Place the lemon zest, juice and caster sugar in a small bowl without dissolving the sugar.

Remove the cake from the oven and, using a pastry brush, paint the the sugar and lemon glaze on to the hot cake, using all the glaze.

Leave the cake to cool completely before turning out.

I think the cake improves if left for a day before eating. Wrap in foil and store in a cool place.

Before serving, decorate if you wish with long fine shreds of lemon zest.

Serve just as it is or with a spoonful of whipped cream or yoghurt.

Winter Apple cake will keep in an airtight tin for about a week.

Cuts into 16-20 slices.

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