Thursday, 6 January 2011

Cakes from around the World by Julie Duff

I had a bit of a culinary disaster on Boxing Day. I was, as usual, trying to use up father-in-law's fruit and decided to make an apple cake. I like the sort which are often called "Swedish" - slices of apple, coated in cinnamon and demerara sugar and suspended in a sponge. Being short of time, I grabbed baking books off the shelves instead of Scandinavian ones, and found Julie Duff's Pennsylvanian Dutch Apple Cake. Being even shorter of time, I threw all the ingredients in a smaller, deeper cake tin and hoped for the best. The cake rose beautifullyand was firm to touch, a skewer came out clean, there was a little shrinkage away from the tin and it smelled delicious - everything you hope for when you take a cake out of the oven. Being shorter still of time, I left it in the tin and put it in a bag while it was still hot - by the time we'd got to my brother's house for lunch, the cake had sunk dramatically and turned out to be totally raw in the middle. I wasn't given the chance to hollow it out and serve it as a ring cake (my usual save) - instead everyone stood around the table, cutting themselves pieces from around the edge until they got to the uncooked stuff. My brother baked the rest again later.

As everyone agreed that the outer ring of the cake was delicious, I thought it was worth making again, so did so today with my latest batch of apples. These weren't too bad - I have no idea where they came from, but the texture is crisp (no pappiness) and there is some concession to flavour. To be on the safe side, I decided to bake it in a brownie tin, thus making it slightly shallower than suggested in the recipe. This was my only deviation - a batter was made with the usual suspects but with oil instead of butter and included vanilla and lemon juice.  The apples were coated in sugar and cinnamon and layered with the batter. I sprinkled a good amount of demerara sugar on top too. And, fortunately, today it cooked through.

ETA: Ugh, oil though. I didn't have vegetable oil when I made it on Boxing Day so used melted butter instead and it had a lovely rich, buttery flavour. Today I stuck to the recipe and used vegetable (sunflower) oil. No comparison. I always use vegetable oil in banana bread and it's fine, but here - never again.

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