A Colloquial Cake

In this household, Claudia Roden's Middle Eastern cookbooks are the ones I turn to when I want to make a speedy and unusual cake. Remember the Walnut and Syrup cake baked to celebrate Passover? Her recipes are ideal for those of us with food allergies or intolerances even if we don't need to adhere to some of the religious reasons that her recipes don't use those specific ingredients (for example, flour at Passover).
I have been thinking about baking a cake with apples and seeing as Paul was using up my stash of cooking apples with rapidity, I had to work fast. We were going out for a picnic the following day to belatedly celebrate my Mum's birthday so I consulted Roden's Book of Jewish Food once more and found the ideal cake: Apple Cake.
Unfortunately, Paul had depleted my store of apples by half, leaving me with just three smallish apples, so I had to make up the numbers with pears instead. Paul had decided not to eat these yet as they weren't ripe. Phew.
Many middle eastern cakes are made using a larger quantity of eggs and less flour, the eggs separated and used to enrich the flavour, to lighten the sponge and also to prolong the life of the cake. This particularly recipe was also devoid of fat so great for people watching their cholesterol who don't want to compromise their sweet tooth.
Furthermore, this cake makes a delicious warm pudding when served fresh from the oven, drizzled with cream (for those cholesterol watchers, ignore that bit about cream) or custard but is also just as delicious served cold, cut into chunky wedges.
And if that isn't enough to make you want to try this simple, unassuming cake, it also looks beautiful, the glazed, sugar encrusted apples and pears producing a skill-free 'icing'.
I fiddled with the recipe slightly to make it extra-appley, adding a dash of apple brandy and then renaming it The Cockney Rhyming Slang Cake (apples and pears - get it??) . Considering that this recipe appears in the Angl-Jewry section of her book though, it is not as trite as it sounds.
However, Roden's original recipe is the definitive version and my alterations are merely to satisfy my need for experimentation. I have noted in italics my own minor tweaks should you too wish to experiment.
CLAUDIA RODEN'S APPLE CAKE (or, Freya's Cockney Rhyming Slang Cake)
6 Apples (or a combination of apples and pears - plums would be good too), peeled, cored and cut into rough crescents
Juice of one and a half lemons
4 Eggs Separated
150g Sugar (I used golden caster sugar to add an additional caramel taste which works really well with the fruit)
140g Plain Flour
Good Slug of Apple Brandy or similar Liqueor
2 Tablespoons Melted Butter or warm vegetable oil
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Demerara Sugar or Brown Sugar for sprinkling
Pour a third of the lemon juice in a bowl of water and as you slice the apples/pears, throw these in the acidulated water to stop them turning brown whilst your prepare the cake batter.
Butter and flour a 9" Cake Tin. Preheat oven to 180c.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, add the remaining lemon juice and the slug of apple brandy, then beat in the flour in 3 or 4 additions, beating well.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold these gently into the batter.
Pour half the mixture into your prepared tin.
Layer half the apple/pears on top of the batter, then pour over the remaining batter.
Arrange the second half of apples/pears on the top of the batter in a circular pattern, then brush with the melted butter or oil, and sprinkle over the cinnamon and demerara sugar.
Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the top is golden brown and the sugar caramelised.
Leave to cool slightly in the tin before turning out and serving.

Once again, pictures are to follow. We have borrowed a digital camera from a friend but they haven't found the cable for the camera yet so please bear with us!
Also, thanks to everyone who emailed me their best wishes - I am feeling much better now and normal service (including pictures) will be resumed as soon as possible!


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love baked apples and pears together, and I wonder why more recipes don't call for that. Maybe it's the difference in textures... but the tastes are so complimentary. Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Sounds delicious. Glad you're feeling better. Little came up with a rhyme for your cake. I'll e-mail it. Take care. Amanda

Glenna said...

yum! I love pears in cake. Good choice!

Cynthia said...

I am definitely going to try this Freya. Any baked item with apples and pears, I'm in.

Kelly-Jane said...

I didn't know you were not well - but hope that you are fully on the mend now whatever was the matter.

Your cake sounds great, love your dubbed title!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

My grandmother used to make a very simple apple cake like this. It was tender and sweet, and we all loved it. I'll have to try the additional slug of apple brandy!

lululu said...

Sounds easily made and delicious. Can't wait to see the picture.

Katie Zeller said...

I love apple cakes, and I have both apples and pears in abundance...or, at least I will in another month or two.
Plus it sounds simple enough for even me to make. Maybe for a dessert for the vendange...

Katie Zeller said...

I love apple cakes, and I have both apples and pears in abundance...or, at least I will in another month or two.
Plus it sounds simple enough for even me to make. Maybe for a dessert for the vendange...

Joyce said...

This sounds marvelous and as you pointed out, pretty labor-light!
Plan to add it to my repetoire and try it out very soon.

Shaun said...

Freya, love - It really is tough to beat a well-researched and articulated Claudia Roden recipe. I love how she draws the reader in with her rhapsodic prose. She has tread in almost all of the culinary regions I am most interested in (except Taiwan and the states of the former-Yugoslavia). Apples and pears are always a beautiful combination. After 1.5 hours of simmering in a sugar syrup, you could also add quince!

Anh said...

I adore Claudia Roden. Her cookbooks are always on my top-self!

And I too love your apple cake. The combo of apple and pear sound nice, too.

Nora B. said...

Freya, that sounds so good. I am looking forward to seeing the photo.
p/s: i didn't realise you were feeling unwell. I hope you feel heaps better soon.

Truffle said...

I adore apple cakes and this sounds particularly delicious. Looking forward to the photos but take your time. Good to hear you're feeling better :)

Stella said...

Even if there're no photos of your cake, I can smell the good flavour of baked apples & cinnamon Freya!

Deborah said...

I would have never thought of combining apples and pears, but what a great idea!! This cake sounds delightful.

Anonymous said...

I love apples and pears together. I bet they are fab in this cake!

Cheryl said...

Jewish apple cake is always fantastic. I will have to try this recipe.

wheresmymind said...

Colloquial...that's a fifty cent (or pence where ya'll are) vocab word!

Valentina said...

Freya, this cake sounds pretty tempting. Any baked apples recipe appeals to me to start with.Thank you for sharing. You were not well? I have not been very present so might have missed some sort of update.glad to see that you seem to be feeling better.

Pille said...

I've got three of her cookbooks - Claudia Roden is such an inspiration!

Helene said...

I just got her book and I love it. I also love how you combined apples and pears, always great together.
Glad to hear you are feeling better.