Brimming with fresh apples and with a hint of cinnamon, this easy cake makes a great pudding served warm with custard, or tucked into a lunchbox for a welcome treat.
When I think of Dorset, the coastal county on the English Channel, I think of sweeping beaches, Jurassic fossils and cider. A bit of a generalisation perhaps, but as someone who has never been there – flown over it but not travelled in it – these sound pretty enticing to me.
This scenic county is also famous for its apple cake. Searching around there doesn’t seem to be a definitive recipe. However the hallmarks of a typical-ish cake appear to be loads of chunky apples (peeled), brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon. Some cakes are topped with slices of apples that become tantalisingly burnished in the hot oven, while others – like mine – are strewn with amber crystals of demerara sugar, giving a toffee-ish crunch after even the lightest of sugary covering. (I’ve hidden the crunchy top with icing sugar here, but you will see the bare cake below.) The texture can also vary: from spongelike and soft – a Victoria with apples really; to almost crumbly and scone-like, but still soft on the interior, as would be expected from so many melting hunks of apple. I settled on the side of the scone. Not at all dry, mind you. More like a crumb cake really.
Dorset for foodies is more than apples, of course. Cheese, seafood and probably some of the most extensive organic small producers in the UK are a must-try for any visitor. If farm shops and farmer’s markets are your thing then Dorset will be your idea of heaven. Some of the best-known UK brands are based in Dorset: ‘The Dorset Famous Five’ – are made up of Clipper Teas, Denhay Farm, Dorset Cereals, Olives Et Al and Hall & Woodhouse. I think I will add award-winning Furleigh Wines to the list.
The best way to visit a place like Dorset, where its charms range over many miles and not confined to a city, is self-catering. Cottages.com have a great range of accommodation whether you wish to stay by the water, in a bustling town, or in the peace and quiet of the countryside. This bucolic thatched cottage has my name on it. Well, not quite as it’s called Elizabeth Cottage, but you know what I mean.
Picking up food from local producers, having a chat to them about the best way to prepare it, and then bringing it back to “my own” kitchen is one of my favourite ways to enjoy a holiday. It is probably one of yours, too. Self-catering is my best option for doing my own thing. And, as you know, I do like to do my own thing.
Even with Dorset Apple Cake.
Dorset Apple Cake
I’ve tweaked this to add a bit more fibre and a bit less sugar, but essentially it is a Dorset Apple Cake as you might be served in cafes all over Dorset. This keeps very well for about five days, but I seriously doubt whether it could possibly not be eaten up within this time. You can also make it in a square tin; I do this for work as it makes it easier (for me) to portion out. Enjoy!
100g self-raising wholemeal flour*
125g self-raising plain flour*
2-3 tsp ground cinnamon (depends on freshness of your cinnamon and your own liking for this spice)
115g chilled butter, cut into small cubes
90g light muscovado or brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
8 tbsp milk
225g (up to 275g or so is fine) eating apples of choice (I used Granny Smiths), cored and diced
100g sultanas or raisins, steeped in hot water and then drained if quite dry
2-3 tbsp demerara sugar OR 1 apple thinly sliced – to decorate
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F. Line sides and bottom of a deep 20cm baking tin with parchment paper. I like to crumple a large circle of the paper until it is soft and push it into the tin.
2. Dry whisk the flour and cinnamon in a large bowl then do one of two thing. First choice is to add the flour mix, butter and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Then scrape into a bowl and stir in the egg and milk, mixing until you get a thick batter. The second choice is to add the diced butter to the flour mixture and rub it all together with your fingers until it resembles coarse sand. Then stir in the sugar, followed by the egg and milk. I’ve tried both with pretty identical results. Just don’t go wild with the food processor though; only pulse until those crumbs appear.
3. Fold in the apple and sultanas and scrape into the lined tin. Sprinkle over the sugar or lay over the apples, as you wish. Bake in the preheated oven for between 30 and 40 minutes, or until lovely a golden colour and a skewer comes out clean. Allow it to cool for a bit in the tin before turning out. Ideally serve still barely warm – with custard if you like. I like.
* You can make this with a gluten-free flour mix too.
This is a partnered post. As always, all thoughts, opinions and recommendations are honestly given.