This is a seasonal cake for us.
We make it at the end of summer to welcome the Jewish new year, to express our hope that the coming 12 months will be as wholesome, good and sweet as honey and apples are.
The whole poached apples in the middle, whose tops bob up through the golden crust, are a recent addition, devised especially for our turbulent times. Right now, it seems to us that good cheer and good wishes both need to be scaled up to 11.
The batter recipe is an old favourite. It is delicious straight from the oven and, arguably, better the next day or the one after, if it makes it there (because of the apples, it keeps best in the fridge). It’s so easy to scale up that we always make a few big batches and bake in gift-sized bars to spread around — family, friends, guests, colleagues — and yet we always wish we had made more.
This cake, and the scent of burnt honey and heady spices wafting from the oven, is so linked in our minds with the end of summer that we cannot imagine making it at any other time. However, there is absolutely no reason for you not to add it to your cake repertoire and bake it from now until next summer. It will be one way to make the coming months far sweeter.
Honey and apple cake
To make a 1kg loaf tin
For poaching the apples
For the cake batter
Peel the apples, but leave the cores in. Put in a pan with the sugar, lemon peel and juice, then cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Leave in the water to cool.
Heat the oven to 170C.
Retain 75g of the poaching liquid when you remove the apples (you can discard the rest or drink it). Then add the honey, butter and sugar to the liquid in the pan. Heat gently until the butter is melted. Add the flour and spices and stir to combine, then add the egg and mix.
Spoon a couple of dollops of batter into the baking tray, then place the three apples in a line on to the dollops. Cover with the rest of the mix.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the cake occasionally for an even bake, then another 15-20 minutes to bake fully. A skewer test is hard here as the apple will stay moist so may confuse you, but the cake should feel nice and bouncy. Chill in the tin before removing and slicing.
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