So it's Saturday morning, and I've just seen this:
Sometimes I wish I did make cakes for a living, but I don't, so I make them on the weekend instead. And that's my solace - time with my head and my hands doing the work, separating eggs and whipping them into a foamy hiatus, whisking flour* with spices and baking powder, slicing through just too cold butter to make it easier to emulsify with the sugar, and finally putting the whole lot together and into a nicely prepared tin to rise and rise again in the oven. It's therapy like no other for those who like the sound of the oven humming in the background, the smells of a new cake - and the anticipation of 'how will this one turn out?'.
Therapy comes in all forms, and my most recent indulgence is a brand spanking new baking book. I LOVE it.
Apart from having delectably cool pink edging to its pages, Lily Vanilli's Sweet Tooth is chock full of fabulous ideas and combinations for cakes, choccies, biscuits, meringue, and ice creams as well as some funky ideas like sweet root veggie crisps to decorate cakes.
*It's thanks to Lily that I've learnt to whisk the flour and dry ingredients together to get an even mix, before folding it into the cake batter - a useful trick and one that I can confirm gives a more even spread of flavour.
So today's treat is Lily's Apple & Rosemary Olive Oil Cake; apart from sounding scrumptious, I love cakes that have a bit of spice to them to warm the cockles on a cool day, which it is today in Nairobi.
How did it turn out? Much as promised - moist, not too dense, and as with oil cakes it will last for the next few days. What I am really enjoying about it though is the crunch of brown sugar on top of the cake - it adds a new dimension to the cake, and is something I would never have thought of doing.
190g plain white flour
1/3 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
85g brown sugar plus a little extra for the end
1.5 tbsp olive oil
240g peeled, cored & diced apples (that's usually about 2 medium sized apples)
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 - 3 apple slices
2 fresh rosemary sprigs for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and spices to fully incorporate. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and keep the beater going, whilst you add in the oil and continue to beat until incorporated. Add in the diced apples (I kept mine slightly chunky instead of finely diced as I like the texture) and mix.
At this stage, make sure your slices of apple are ready for the cake, get your sprigs of rosemary and dip them in cold water, then dust them with brown sugar. Fold in the dry ingredients. Transfer into the prepared cake tin*, lay the apple slices on top together with the rosemary springs. Pop in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. When you remove from the oven, allow it to cool for ten minutes in the tin before you turn it out. Serve it warm (and it's quite crumbly) with vanilla ice cream, or leave it to cool completely and have with steaming coffee.
*Prepared cake tins for me are: spotlessly clean to start, then smear butter around the whole tin. Then put a small handful of flour into the tin and hold the tin up, tap the flour so it travels around the tin and will stick slightly to the butter. Tap any excess out and your tin is ready for use!