Mum treated all of us to another wonderful recipe that harks back to my childhood in Perth. This apple cake, sometimes made with prunes, sometimes purely with apples, was regularly seen disappearing from the kitchen bench. It was always greeted with much enthusiasm by my two younger brothers and myself, especially following an afternoon of swimming training.
There was a particular enamel baking tray that was used when whipping up this simple but delicious dessert. I can still picture is now – rectangular, white enamel trimmed with cornflour blue around the top. It always seemed so enormous to me, but perhaps that was because I was so little at the time. My mother reminded me with a chuckle, how my father managed to happily eat his way through half the tray – that’s how incredibly delicious this recipe was and still is today.
The addition of prunes balances the sweetness of the apples and is an excellent if somewhat sneaky way of encouraging children to eat something they would usually turn their noses up at. Prunes are in fact dried plums, dried yellow-fleshed European plums to be exact. Their naturally high sugar content makes them great contenders for the drying process.
We used to take thick slices wrapped in waxed paper to school for recess the next day. I do the same with my children.
Childhood Apple Cake
This will serve 8 people and is a smaller version of the jumbo sized cake mum made for us as children.
Ingredients for the base
5 large juicy apples, washed, peeled and thinly sliced. Best to use apples that are crisp like Granny Smiths or Pink Lady or a mixture of whatever is in your fruit bowl.
5 prunes cut in half
30 g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cloves
Ingredients for the topping
100 g unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk to combine
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees fan forced.
Start off by preparing the fragrant fruit by sautéing all the ingredients for the base in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low- medium heat. It should take about 10 minutes for the mixture to become a golden, glossy sticky combination of delicious flavours.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping by beating together the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add the vanilla, flour and baking powder along with the milk (about half a cup in total, but add this gradually so as not to flood the mixture). Keep beating until the the mixture resembles a smooth, thick batter.
Spoon the fruit base while it is still hot, into a lightly greased 20 cm shallow pie dish or cake tin. Immediately spread the batter evenly over the top. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown.
Best eaten warm, dusted with icing sugar and served with custard, ice cream or cream.