12 November 2011

Spiced Toffee Apple Cake

Spiced Toffee Apple Cake
This cake was on the cover page of November 2011 BBC GoodFood magazine and is available here. Designed as an alternative to toffee apples on Bonfire Night, I made it for just that purpose. It was hit.

You can use fresh dates, but I have had good results with dried dates which keep well in the store cupboard.

Equipment
I think the food processor and electric whisk are essential. You'll need a 20 x 30 cm baking tray ideally 3-4 cm tall, though I got away with a shallower tin with the mixture contained by the greaseproof paper. I used a stainless steel small saucepan, as I was worried that the melted toffee might damage a non-stick surface. It certainly made cleaning cooled toffee easier as I could simply use a scourer on the steel. I bought an apple corer (not essential, but it did make things easy). Also: large mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl, sharp knife, chopping board, wooden spoon, spatula.

Preparation
You want the butter and eggs at room temperature, so if refrigerated get them out some time before.

Ingredients
200g chopped dried dates
200ml milk, plus a splash
250g unsalted butter (I used Flora Buttery)
280g self-raising flour
200g light soft brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon mixed spice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 small red apples (I used Pink Lady apples)
squeeze lemon juice
8 toffees
icing sugar, for dusting

Method
  • Weigh dates straight into a small pan, add the milk and bring to a simmer. The milk will turned brown from the dates and thicken. Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 mins to cool.
  • Set the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
  • Into a large mixing bowl weigh out the butter, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, mixed spice, vanilla and eggs.
  • Pulse the date mixture to a smooth purée in a food processor or blender and then add it to the other ingredients in the large bowl.
  • Core the apples and cut in half. Then slice quite thinly, tossing in a little lemon juice in a medium sized bowl. If not using a corer, cut into quarters and remove the cores before slicing.
  • Beat together the cake ingredients with an electric whisk until smooth. Scrape into the baking tray and smooth to the edges with the spatula. Arrange the apple slices, overlapping in rows, on top of the cake in 3 rows.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 mins until a skewer poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tray for some time before removing.
  • To make the toffee sauce put the toffees in a small pan and start to heat, as it melts add a splash of milk to stop the toffee burning, and keep stirring  to stop the milk doing the same. When you have a runny sauce, drizzle over the cake.
  • Dust with a little icing sugar only immediately before serving.

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