“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
~ Carl Sagan ~
I have this recipe for what I call Apple Cake. I got the recipe from my mother who wrote it in her recipe scrapbook somewhere in the ’60s or ’70s. She often used to make Apple Cake in round pie dishes for visitors and serve it as you would a pie. It is not a straightforward apple pie though, as it has a more cake-like texture and there’s no pastry involved. We also had Apple Cake for dessert after Sunday lunch, on hey-days and holidays. And the best part? It was delicious, super easy to make and budget-friendly.
For my eldest daughter’s third birthday party I decided to make Apple Cake for the parents of her little friends. I made a double batch in a large rectangular dish as I had quite a few mouths to feed. I became “the mom who can bake”! Since then I have shared this recipe with so many people that I have lost count. In fact, I get asked for it so often that I have a copy saved on my phone for easy sharing!
I have submitted this recipe for my younger daughter’s school recipe book, we have used it for school projects (make a video of you cooking something in Afrikaans) and I have turned it into cupcake sized tarts when we needed something special for a Ladies Tea. I have been asked to make “that Apple thing of yours” for many a bring-and-share party and have had complaints from people when they hear Apple Cake was on offer at a gathering they didn’t attend! Apple Cake is the king of all my recipes and it’s not even mine! How I wish I knew the very talented creator of my recipe to thank her… and to look at what other recipes she has to offer!
“So can we have that recipe now?” I can hear you ask. Sure, I have it here on my laptop, so it will only take a moment to cut and paste!
- 2 cups white sugar
- 120 grams butter
- 5 eggs
- ¼ cup milk (only if the batter is very thick)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 10 ml baking powder
- 2,5 ml salt
- 2 x 400g unsweetened tinned pie apples
- powdered ginger / cinnamon
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup sugar
- Cream the sugar and butter together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and mix into the egg mixture.
- Add milk in small quantities if necessary, until the batter can be spread into the baking dish. This step can be left out as the batter is sometimes the correct consistency if the eggs are large.
- Spread the batter into the bottom of a greased ovenproof dish.
- Drain the apple pieces and cut them into bite sized chunks.
- Pack the apple pieces on top of the batter and sprinkle with the powdered ginger / cinnamon.
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 180ºC until the cake is set in the middle.
- Mix the sugar and cream for the syrup together in a pot 10 minutes before the Apple Cake is ready to come out of the oven.
- Bring to the boil stirring frequently and then reduce the heat and simmer on medium for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Pour the syrup over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
- Serve the cake warm or cold, with ice-cream and custard as a pudding, or with clotted cream as a cake.
- As mentioned before the cake can be made in two round pie dishes instead of one large dish. I have even used a cupcake tin before – fill the cupcake cavities about half way with batter. Pack a few pieces of apple on each cupcake. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes and top with syrup as usual.
- Talking about the syrup – that is actually the best part of the recipe. The cake batter rises up through the apple pieces and then the sweet, creamy syrup soaks into the cake (like a Malva pudding or American poke cake). I used to leave the cake in the oven for a few extra minutes as I have a friend who particularly loved the harder, slightly over-browned corner pieces that soaks up the most syrup! And if it looks as if you might have too much syrup for the cake, pour it into a serving jug and serve with the cake – I guarantee there will be none left afterwards!
- The original recipe called for ground ginger the be sprinkled over the apples before baking. I love the slightly spicy taste of the ginger as that is how I have eaten it many times, but cinnamon and apple is a great flavour combination and makes a perfect match too.
- The unsweetened pie apples in the recipe is probably an indication of how old fashioned this recipe is. I still use tinned pie apples though as it is not so sweet (the syrup brings a lot of sweetness to the cake) and you can easily keep the tins in the cupboard for Apple Cake to be made at a moment’s notice. That said, I am positive that fresh apples, fresh or tinned pears, peach pieces or even blueberries will all make for a delicious variation.