Now I’ve got my head around Autumn, and that there’s no escaping winter’s icy claws, I’m fully embracing it. I’ve splashed out £14 on a new pair of slippers from Next, I’ve made my first batch of hearty sweet potato soup (click here for the recipe), I’ve cooked an OTT roast and I’ve baked my first apple cake of the season - I’m really living! I’ll admit a fair bit of the aforementioned was in the name of procrastination but we’ll just gloss over that.
Now, in case you missed it/had more pressing things to focus on, apple season is here. To me, nothing says Autumn like apples and cinnamon. Bring the two together in cake form and I’m a happy camper. As a mum of a two-year-old whose base level is ‘highly energetic’ I’m always experimenting with ways of creating baked stuff that tastes great but isn’t swimming in loads of sugar. Sadly as Archie’s gotten older, and more worldly wise, he’s no longer so thrilled when I offer him a slightly bland but refined sugar-free muffin or biscuit trying to give it the hard sell - he’s had his first taste of the hard stuff and there’s no going back now. However, there is moderation. This apple cake has no added refined sugar but instead, a handful of chopped dates, two and half tablespoons of maple syrup and a heap of apples – making it much less sugary but still moist and delicious. I've also used part spelt flour part plain flour to boost the goodness and give it a slightly nutty flavour. Archie is very happy with a slice of this and a glass of milk.
Now, I touched on the fact it’s British apple season but in complete contradiction with this, I use an apple that's in season all year round: The Royal Gala. Primarily because it’s what I had knocking about when I came up with this but it’s also what I know works really well in it. You could try experimenting with some of the amazing varities now in season but I'd avoid the typical cooking type as they can be really tart and with no added sugar the end result could be pretty bland.
75g Dates soaked in warm water
75G Unsalted butter
2 + !/2 Tablespoons of proper Maple Syrup
2 Medium sized free range eggs
100g Plain flour
125g Spelt flour
2 Teaspoons of baking powder
1 Teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 180C (fan)
1. Line a loaf tin with baking paper
2. Chop your dates and soak them in a small bowl of warm water whilst you get everything else ready. If you have really fresh gooey ones don’t worry about soaking them
3. Once butter is at room temperature mix in a bowl with the maple syrup, don’t worry if it doesn’t come together perfectly
4. Add one egg at time to the butter mix, and mix until combined
5. In another big bowl mix the flours, baking powder and cinnamon together until combined
6. Add the flour mixture to the cake mix and mix until combined – don’t worry this will be claggy and dry seeming but it will come together once you add the apple
7. Grate and add the apple and the dates to cake mix – I keep the skin on but you can peel them first if you prefer. This will take a minute to come together but it will.
9. Pour the mix into a lined loaf tin. Now, in this picture you can see I topped with slices of apple which then caught quite a lot in the oven, I have since made this with a bit of grated apple on top and it works a lot better. So, add a handful of grated apple on top and then drizzle half a tablespoon of maple syrup on top. Put into the oven and bake for 50 minutes on the middle shelf or until a toothpick/metal skewer comes out clean.
Set aside to cool a little before carefully lifting out of the tin and letting cool completely on a cooling wrack.