spiced apple loaf

When I saw a recipe for a mulled apple and spelt loaf in July's Gourmet Traveller it reminded me that I had an apple cake recipe that I'd written but hadn't ever made. I'd swapped the apples for pear to make a pear and hazelnut crumble cake then made another version which used rhubarb. I decided to rectify the situation as quickly as possible to make this spiced apple loaf.

It's a simple cake and as the cake is made with melted butter it doesn't take long to put together. I bought some apple puree but you could always make then blitz some stewed apple with a stick blender to make your own.  Once the cake is cool its topped with a simple apple flavoured icing which I decorated with some maple candied walnuts. I've included the recipe but that's a step you could easily skip and just use a few whole walnuts instead. This is not a sweet cake so I think it's best topped with the apple icing otherwise you'll need to increase the quantity of sugar in the cake batter. It's also better served the day after baking giving the flavours more time to develop.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a loaf tin or an 8 inch round cake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Spiced apple loaf
1½ cups coarsely chopped, peeled cooking apple (1 large green apple)
2 tbs lemon juice   
1 cup SR flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon     
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch salt    
¼ cup almond meal 
125g melted unsalted butter   
½ cup brown sugar   
½ cup caster sugar   
1 tsp vanilla   
2 eggs
125g apple puree (1 small tub) 
½ cup toasted walnut pieces   

1 cup sifted icing sugar 
45g softened unsalted butter 
The reserved apple and lemon juice.   
Additional 1-2 tbls apple or lemon juice 
walnuts for decoration 

Grease and line the base and sides of a bar or loaf tin. Combine the coarsely chopped apple and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Set to one side for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Drain the apples, reserving the juice for the icing. Sift the dry ingredients into a small bowl. Stir through the almond meal and set to one side.

In a medium size  bowl combine the melted butter, the sugars and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Add the flour and apple puree to make a soft batter. If the batter still looks a little dry add a tablespoon of yoghurt or milk. Gently fold in the chopped apple and nuts. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top. Place the cake tin on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 50 minutes at 180°C/350°F or until the cake is cooked when tested with a skewer. If the cake is browning too quickly you may have to cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper about halfway through the baking time. 

When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack to cool. When completely cold remove the cake from the tin and remove the lining paper. I like to ice the cake still in the tin to get a smooth edge. Once the icing has set I carefully remove the cake from the tin then remove the lining paper before serving.

In a small bowl, cream the butter with the sifted icing sugar. Add the  reserved apple juice and enough juice to make a spreadable icing. Spread the icing over the top of the cake. Let the icing set a little before decorating with the walnut halves.  

If you'd like to make some maple glazed walnuts, they're simple. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a small pan with baking paper. Lay out a few whole walnuts and spoon a small amount of maple flavoured syrup over each walnut. Place in the oven and cook for 5 minutes then using tongs, carefully turn the walnut halves over. Return to the oven and cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn one more time to coat the walnuts then transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool transfer the walnuts to a small container lined with baking paper until and seal until ready to use. I've not stored them for longer than 24 hours so I'm unsure what happens thereafter. They taste so good I've ended up eating all the leftovers!

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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