In my kitchen, weekends have always been a time for cake. I bake on other days too: for after school snacks, or mid-week puddings, but it is weekend baking that I love the most. A quiet, unhurried potter in the kitchen -with the radio on, and the sunlight softly falling onto the table- is a calming balm to soothe away the stresses of a busy week. Weekend afternoons were made for a hot cup of tea and a slice of still-warm cake.
Sometimes we take our tea in a flask, and our cake wrapped in tinfoil, to be eaten out in the woods, or atop a hill. Other times, we sit in the garden, mugs in hand, whilst the children play in the afternoon sunshine. More often than not, however, a cake is sliced straight from the cooling rack and eaten at the kitchen table, eager fingers dropping buttery crumbs.
A bowl of windfall apples is a permanent feature in the autumn. A kind friend with bountiful apple trees replenishes it whenever I see her, and in between times, I pick apples up from honesty-box shops or roadside baskets. I use them for breakfasts, or bake crumbles and cookies during the week, but when the weekend arrives, it’s time for a Windfall Apple Cake.
This cake, an adaptation of a Nigel Slater recipe, is a recurrent feature of my autumnal kitchen. At its absolute best eaten fresh from the oven, it will keep for several days in a tin, wrapped in foil. It works well as a pudding with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.
Bake it, and taste the meditative pleasure of the weekend kitchen.
— INGREDIENTS —
- 130g butter, softened
- 130g unrefined caster sugar
- 2 apples (or 3 if very small)
- the juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- demerara sugar – 2 tbsp plus more for sprinkling
- eggs – 2 large
- 130g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
— METHOD —
- Heat the oven to 180c/gas 4
- Line the base and sides of a 24cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Combine the butter and caster sugar, and cream together. If you have a freestanding mixer, you can leave them to mix whilst you get on with the apples.
- Core and finely chop the apples and toss with the lemon juice in a bowl. Stir in the demerara sugar and the cinnamon, if using (I love the cake both with and without it, depending on my mood.).
- Beat the eggs and whisk with a fork. Slowly add to the butter and sugar, beating as you go. Sift together the flour and baking powder (it may seem a hassle, but it really does make for a lighter cake). Fold them gently into the mixture.
- Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the cake tin, scatter the apple pieces on top and pour over any excess lemon juice.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the apple pieces have browned, the edges of the cake have shrunk away from the sides of the tin, and a skewer comes out clean. Immediately scatter generously with demerara sugar and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
- Eat warm.