Created in New Zealand in the 30's from a cross between Golden Delicious and Kidd's Orange Red (which is a cross of Cox's Orange Pippin and Delicious), Royal Gala apples are noted for their red blushed skin and for their crisp, sweet and juicy flesh. While they are a fabulous eating apple they also are well suited for cooking.
As Mother's Day is being celebrated in various parts of the world this Sunday, I thought making a cake would be appropriate thing to do. My mother makes a sublime apple cake that I've made for this blog previously, so I thought I'd take inspiration this time from the January edition of Good Food Magazine and try my hand at their Scandinavian Apple Cake.
Two things immediately attracted me to this recipe - one was the topping, a spiced sugar crust. The other was in the method - you make the cake batter and pour it into the tin and then you push in as many apple segments as you can - I just love the idea of a cake reaching bursting point.
250 grams softened butter, cut into small cubes
250 grams golden caster sugar
170 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
30 grams rice flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Apples, quartered and cored, skin left on
60 grams golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat until thick and creamy. I used a stand mixer and this takes at least 5 minutes, with pauses to scrap down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
On a very low speed, add in the eggs one at a time, pausing between additions to ensure they have been absorbed into the mixture.
Sift the plain and rice flours, baking powder and ground cinnamon together - add to the batter and then slowly beat until combined.
The batter will be on the thicker side, scoop it into a prepared 20cm high-sided springform or loose-bottomed cake pan - even out the surface so it is roughly level.
As it's hard to judge how many apples you'll need, I leave the apple preparation until this stage. Take the apple quarters and push them into the cake batter - it doesn't matter if the apple sticks out above the batter as the cake will rise and it will all be covered with the sugar topping.
To make the sugar topping:
Place the caster sugar and spices into a bowl and stir until well combined. Sprinkle this evenly over the cake mix.
Put the cake pan on a baking tray and place in a pre-heated 170°C oven and cook until golden. The time taken will depend on the apples - my cake took about 90 minutes to cook.
Let it sit in the pan to cool before serving.
You'll notice that were the sugar was a little thicker, it's almost formed what looks like a caramel and overall the effect is of a crisp crust - a really wonderful contrast to the cooked apples. There's a lovely moistness to the cake - a benefit of having cooked the apples within the cake is that all their juices have been retained and the flavour permeates the batter.