The Musette: apple and almond cake

I’m generally not fond of cake as dessert. Instead mid-morning coffee and cake or afternoon tea and cake get my vote. However, there are a couple of exceptions: brownies, and cake with fruit. I had some organic apples my beloved wasn’t overly keen on, plus marzipan left over from the wedding cake, so I decided to make my beloved a dessert cake, to be eaten warm with creme anglaise or whipped cream, for Sunday lunch.

This cake brings back memories of week-ends in Hamburg. Saturday afternoons, we’d go round to our friend’s mother for Kaffee und Küchen, she was an absolute whiz in the baking department. None of us could ever say no to another piece of one of her cakes. She used to make an Apple Cake very similar to this one and she told me that the secret behind the cake’s caramel flavour and moistness was marzipan.

My beloved said the cake reminded him of the ones Heike’s mother used to make. So that was a result!

The advantage of such a cake is that it tends to improve with keeping and will therefore provide sustenance at afore-mentioned mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a couple of days when my beloved’s energy may be flagging. Providing we don’t have any visitors!

Ingredients (10 portions)

  • 800g (1 3/4lbs) tart eating apples
  • 1 organic lemon, juice and zest
  • 250g (9oz) almond paste/marzipan
  • 150g (3/4 cup) raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g (14 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 medium-sized organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 80g (9 tbsp) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4/(350°F).

2. Grease the sides and base of a 24cm round cake tin with butter, then put a disc of greaseproof (parchment) paper on the bottom.

3. Divide the lemon juice into two separate bowls. Peel and core the apples. Slice two and toss them in one bowl of lemon juice. Dice the other apples into small cubes and toss in the other bowl of lemon juice.

4. Using a grater with large holes, grate the almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix until the almond paste is finely broken up.

5. Add the melted (and cooled) butter and lemon zest, continue mixing until smooth. It should look like liquid toffee!

6. Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

7. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, cornstarch and baking powder in a small bowl. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the almond batter mixture by hand, then add the diced apples, along with any lemon juice in the bowl.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place the sliced apples in concentric circles on top of the batter, pressing them in very lightly. (I omitted to take a photo of the cake before t went into the oven. My apples slices were sliced too thinly, so they sank!)

9. Bake the cake until the top is a rich nutty brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

10. Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Let the cake cool before running a knife around the inside of the cake pan to release the cake, and remove the sides of the cake pan.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

2. Don’t worry, the cake is meant to be a luscious dark brown.

3. The cake will keep for a couple of days in a cake tin but please don’t freeze it, the apple will go soggy!

4. Make sure the sliced apple isn’t sliced too thinly otherwise (like mine) it will sink into the cake rather than remaining on top!

5. You can serve the cake warm with icecream. Vanilla, cinnamon or ginger would all be good. Or, of course, serve it with creme anglaise, freshly whipped cream, creme fraiche or some natural yoghurt. It’s also delicious cold.