- 4oz sultanas (or raisins)
- Calvados or Brandy (enough to cover sultanas)
- 8oz sugar (soft brown or similar)
- 4oz butter
- 3 eggs
- 6oz Flour (preferably wholemeal self-raising)
- 1 tsp baking powder (2 if using plain flour)
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- pinch of salt
- 1 large cooking apple (or 2 small ones)
- 4oz chopped nuts (hazel or walnuts)
(Note: I usually use the alternate method – see below)
soak sultanas in calvados, I put them in a bowl on a warm surface to speed it up. Blend sugar & butter together (if butter is very cold it helps to melt one third of it first). Add eggs and blend until smoothish.
Then slowly add the flour, salt and spice folding it into the mixture (can be done in the blender if it has the capacity). Add nuts and fold into mixture.
De-core the apples ( don’t peal them), and chop into smallish chunks ( I aim for 1cm cubed), then fold into the mixture.
Finally add the drained sultanas, if the mixture is dry add some of the calvados. I try to get a stiff mixture that doesn’t slump, but is moist enough to stir and hold all the ingredients together.
Line and grease a 9″ cake tin ( easiest to use one with a removable base), place mixture in tin , then level and smooth the top. If your mixture is too sloppy you will find that all the sultanas will sink to the bottom during cooking.
Bake in the centre of a medium oven ( about 150 centigrade) for about 1.5hours or 190 for 1hour. I use an Esse (like an Aga) so the oven temperature is never precise but its always hot. If it turns out too dry then reduce the temperature next time.
Test with a skewer to make sure its cooked.
An alternative method, without using the food processor:
- soak the sultanas
- De-core the apples ( don’t peal them), and chop into smallish chunks
- add the sugar, drained sultanas, nuts, apples, baking powder and spices to the flour and mix well
- Melt the butter and add it to the mixture, and mix well.
- beat the eggs until frothy then add to the mixture
- mix well and add calvados from the sultanas if needed to get a fairly stiff mixture.
- pour into the cake tin, and bake as before
I often find that I have forgotten to get butter out of the freezer, so I usually have to melt the butter anyway.
- use cranberries soaked in port instead of sultanas – festive apple cake
- use carrots instead of apples – spiced carrot cake.
- 3 teaspoons (instead of 2) of mixed spice gives it a bit more zing!
- use gooseberries instead of apples, or half apples / half gooseberries if you don’t like it too tart. top and tail them and slice into two.
- Rubarb apparently works well instead of apples – I haven’t tried it so let me know if it works for you.
- any alcohol will do for soaking the sultanas – left over wine is very good.
- Banana – this didn’t work
- Cup cakes – place the mixture into a bun tin and bake for 35 mins. Use paper cases if you want to get them out easily. I filled each hole about 2/3 full and got about 20 little cakes.