Caught by the River

Cake by the River

16th October 2008

Dorset Apple Cake

October 21st is ‘Apple Day’, which since 1990 has celebrated the great British apple. Events are held all over the country to recognise its’ diversity and significance to our culture and kitchens.

There are endless varieties, including Golden Ball, Buttery D’Or, Desse de Buff, Neild’s Drooper and the wonderfully named Devonshire cider apple – Slack-ma-Gurdle.

Sadly, since the 1950’s many orchards have been in decline and lots of varieties are in danger of being lost. So, when buying apples, try to buy local and seasonal, or beg, steal and scrump from allotments and gardens.

Different regions of the country produce different apple types – eating apples, cider apples and cookers. Dorset soil is notable for its’ cider and cooking varieties. Although there are many different recipes for Dorset Apple Cake, they all seem to use cooking apples, as the acidity in the fruit helps them to form a puree during cooking which produces a soft, moist cake.

225 g butter
225g unrefined caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 good eggs
225g self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
25g ground almonds
2 large cooking apples, (I used an unidentified organic cooker from a friend’s London allotment)
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and then add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually add the sifted flour, baking powder and almonds. Peel and chop one of the apples and add to the batter. Peel and coarsely grate the other one and add also.
Transfer to a buttered 24cm tin and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top. Bake in a medium oven (180c) for an hour, covering with foil after 45mins if it browns too much. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins then remove and let it cool on a wire rack.
Dredge with caster sugar and eat!

For lots of great apple info. see ‘The Apple Source Book’ by Sue Clifford and Angela King . (WB)