An apple a day keeps the doctor and dentist away goes the old adage. And it's still apple season, with fruit from Shimla and Srinagar available in plenty in our fruit shops. Keeping with my mantra to eat local, eat seasonal and eat sustainable...I chose to bake with apples when I had to make a cake for a ladies tea party last week. I followed a popular online recipe by a very famous chef Yottam Ottolenghi - his Spiced Apple Cake, which is also in his cookbook SIMPLE. And I adapted it to not only use local apples, but local ingredients like ghee, palm sugar, palm jaggery and hung curd. I made it eggless too, since apples are so mild you need to keep everything subtle to bring out that flavour. I was thrilled with how easy it was to make and how wonderful it tasted. It's healthy too. So, when you are entertaining this festive season or just simply :), do make this spiced apple cake, and serve it with vanilla ice cream or custard or sweetened whipped cream. P.S. Ottolenghi’s original recipe is available online.
Ingredients for Cake:
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125g) ghee
1 cup (200g) palm sugar (this is fine powdered sugar and light in colour. If it's not available in your stores, use 150g of regular white sugar)
9 tablespoons milk (or 3 eggs)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 ½ cups (300g) refined flour/maida
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon or a large pinch of salt
1 cup (200g) thick hung curd
Ingredients for Topping:
500g apple (after removing peel and core)
½ cup (100g) palm jaggery or brown sugar
1 tablespoon mixed spices (I used cinnamon powder, grated nutmeg and a little ginger powder)
1. Preheat your oven to 160 Celcius and line the bottom of a round 10” spring form pan with baking paper. Grease the sides of the cake pan.
2. Using a cake beater/mixer, mix the ghee and sugar together until well blended. Add in the milk and vanilla essence and mix well.
3. Sift the flour with baking powder and add in the large pinch of salt.
4. Slowly add the flour a little by little to the ghee-sugar-milk mix and once it thickens, blend in the hung curd.
5. Pour this thick cake mixture into the cake pan and spread it evenly across the pan.
6. Now start on the apples – peel the apples and remove the cores. Weigh 500g of apples, and then cut each one into slices, not too thick, not too thin. Quickly mix the apple slices with the powdered spices and palm jaggery. Work quickly, because the jaggery melts into the apple slices and they start to release water.
7. Gently arrange the apple slices, row by row, on top of the cake.
8. Place in the oven and bake for 60 minutes or until the cake tests done. Insert a wooden skewer and it should come out clean. Take care not to burn the apple topping.
9. Served warm, with vanilla ice cream on the side, this is delicious and fresh, as well as local and seasonal.