Last Friday, there were yet more apples from the allotment. I needed another new apple cake recipe. Looking through the book shelves, I came across one of my cookbooks which I'd bought on a whim years ago, "Falling Cloudberries" by Tessa Kiros.
To be honest it was the title and the cover which seduced me all those years ago. That, and the stunning photographs that lay inside...of food, of different landscapes.
As I've said previously, I love a cook book with a back story and Tessa Kiros certainly gives the reader one of those. She was born in England - her mother was Finnish and her father was a Greek Cypriot,then, as a small child, she went to live in South Africa. Add in years of travelling, and then being married and living in Italy, she's obviously inherited and amassed a lifetime of different recipes.
We're taken back to both her grandfathers' recipes, from the fishy dishes of Finland, to Cyprus, to sun baked South African cuisine and to her mother in law's Italian food made with love. Each recipe tells a story, gives a glimpse into a time gone by. Foodie memoirs if you like.
I've made a number of these recipes in the past - milk tart, chicken and oregano to name but a few, and I've been meaning to make the Finnish meatballs with lingonberry jam for ages. But as I flicked through the recipes gathered in South Africa, I found my new cake recipe.
Apple cake with toffee filling. That sounded good, something a little different from the other ones I've been making in this extremely productive apple season.
It's a very easy recipe, even though...wait for it....I've not made toffee before. Luckily this was a soft toffee topping, a kind to teeth toffee topping. Which was just as well, as I lost a filling last year to a rather hard sticky toffee.
But you don't want to read about my teeth, oh no, so let me tell you, this cake has a soft sponge and a caramelly, toffee coated top. But where are the apples I hear you ask? Well, they're secreted at the bottom of the cake..
Doesn't it look pretty? As I made it late in the afternoon, I resisted the temptation to test and taste the cake, as Mr Thinking of the days and I were off out for supper at Jenny's, our dear sister in law's house. Just as well, as we ate rather a lot. Three courses, all delicious. A lovely meal with prosecco, wine and I believe there may have been whisky later .
We all promised ourselves a bracing walk the following morning, but the sky was dark, the rain was bucketing down. So when Jenny, her partner Roger and our cousins Mike and Jane popped around, we decided to stay in for a while to see if the rain would stop. It didn't, so hot coffee and cake was required. Luckily there was one to hand....
And no, Boo and Eric, my two terriers, did not manage to get their paws on the cake, despite them looking longingly at the cake. The rest of us agreed that we liked the combination of all three layers, and it was one to make again. Oh, and yes, Jenny and Jane wanted the recipe.
So here it is....
Apple Cake with Toffee Topping
200g caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
200g plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
60ml of milk
115g caster sugar
125m ml of single cream ( I used double and it was fine)
How to make
1.Preheat the oven to 190 degs F/gas mark 5, then grease and flour a deep 24cm springform tin.
2.Peel the apples and cut them in lengthways. Cut each half into about 6 slices, removing the core. Arrange the slices in the tin.
3.Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, beating after each one. Sift in and beat the flour and baking powder.
4. Beat in the milk until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Put this mixture over the apples and smooth the top. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and make the topping.
5.Put the butter and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the sugar melts and turns light caramel. Add the cream, drop by drop initially, then in a steady stream, taking care that it doesn't splash. Lower the heart a little and simmer for another minute.
6.Loosen the side of the springform tin. Serve warm or a room temperature.
Tessa Kiros suggests serving with vanilla or crème fraiche ice cream, another recipe in the book, but we just ate it as it was.
And so, another apple cake, which I will definitely make again.
"Falling Cloudberries" by Tessa Kiros was published by Murdoch Books in 2004 and is still available.