One of the things I love about this time of year, as the tail end of autumn turns into winter, is the endless bags of apples I am given. Living in a flat in central London, I do not have a garden, or apple tree, of my own so am often the grateful recipient of apples from those generous enough to give me what they cannot manage to use. “You’ll be able to do something with these, won’t you?”
And of course, I always can, for big bags of bramleys mean only one thing: baking.
Despite the many uses for apples in baking, I almost always end up making a pie. The traditional kind, baked with a little brown sugar and cinnamon with a lattice top, served up hot with some chilled custard. Never homemade as I have a perpetual love of the bright yellow kind that comes in cans. I would have done so this week were I making a huge comforting roast to follow it with.
But I was not, so cake it was. This particular cake is autumn itself: a cinnamon and ginger-spiced crumb studded with plenty of apple and a scattering of sweet dates. It was destined to be a loaf cake, with a slice each to eat warm from the oven and the rest frozen to enjoy at a later date; and then I spotted the bundt tin languishing at the back of the cupboard and yearned for something a little more special. Once baked, I mixed up some icing sugar with a little water and drizzled it over the top. I had the intention of freezing some of the cake but, with a few visitors over during the week, we ended up finishing it in a matter of days.
Apple, Date and Cinnamon Bundt Cake
175g butter, plus an extra knob for cooking the apples
4 bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2cm dice
350g granulated sugar, plus 2 tbsp extra for cooking the apples
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
120g dates, chopped
420g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g icing sugar
A little water
Preheat the oven to 180ºc and prepare a bundt tin with cake release spray (I use Dr. Oetker’s.)
Melt the knob of butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, tip in the apples and sauté until golden brown. Sprinkle over the two tablespoons of sugar and cook for a few minutes longer until the apples are glazed. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a free-standing mixer, beat the remaining butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, followed by the vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, toss the dates in a tablespoon of flour to coat them, then sift together the remaining flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Beat half of this mixture into the wet ingredients, followed by the buttermilk, followed by the remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
Fold in the cooked apples and dates, then scrape the batter into the bundt tin and level off. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until browned and risen, and until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, mix together the icing sugar and water until a smooth icing is formed. Drizzle over the cooled cake with a spoon and allow to harden.
Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz.