Apple Amber Cake

I cannot believe how lazy I’ve been about my blogging recently.  Life has just been so hectic and every time I try to sit down and write something, there’s always something else to do.  I’ve also started on a diet, so I have been trying my hardest not to bake as much. This is torture to me as I really miss it.  So I made a deal with myself. I  said I would bake only for Cake Club or for special occasions. Famous last words: I lasted 4 days after joining Slimming World!  It got to Sunday lunch time and I was working my way through a massive bag of beautiful rosy apples my Dad and step mum had given me.  I just had to bake something and found the perfect recipe in Miranda Gore Browne’s book Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can.

Apple Amber is a traditional Irish pudding which is a bit like an Apple Meringue Pie.  Miranda’s recipe is a cake version where the base is a whisked lemon sponge.  The apples are spooned on top as a filling and then the meringue goes on top and is baked in the oven.  It sounded too mouthwatering for words.

First, I had to make the apple filling.  This I tried to do on the Sunday morning when really I should have been finishing off my pile of ironing.  The ironing basket was getting as tall as the Empire State Building but that didn’t stop me from baking!  I used 3 apples as they were quite small and finely chopped them.  Miranda had said to grate them but I find grating things hard work. So I peeled the apples, cored and sliced them into little cubes. They were then put into a pan to stew with some sugar.  As my apples were eaters and quite sweet, I drastically reduced the sugar but added in lemon juice.  Once the apples were pureed down a bit, I took them off the heat and stirred in two egg yolks.

Miranda suggests using a springform cake tin but I couldn’t find the right size one in my cupboard. I just used a normal circular tin but a deep one I use for Christmas cakes.  This gave me enough depth for the lemon sponge cake base, the filling and the meringue part.  As the filling was cooling, I started on the cake part. I whisked butter and sugar together in my KitchenAid, then added in some vanilla extract and two more egg yolks.  While this was whisking away I weighed out the dry ingredients for the cake. I used self raising flour, baking powder and some lemon zest. Finally I added in some milk.

The cake baked very quickly in my fan oven and only took about 20 minutes. I felt the time passed by in a flash as I was doing the meringue part while the sponge was cooking.  Apart from smashing an egg on the work top and then making a mess of separating another egg, I finally managed to make some meringue.  I’m getting better at meringues but sometimes I worry about burning them.

At last it was time to assemble the whole cake together and finish it off in the oven.  I spooned the apple mixture on top of the sponge still in its cake tin and then finally on went the meringue.  I wanted it to look like a big snowy mountain but it just looked like a big mess.  I just hoped it would taste nice.  Back into the oven it went for 15 minutes.

When the cake was ready to come out it smelled wonderful in my kitchen.  I gave it time to cool down before attempting to get the cake out of the tin.  It slid out easily apart from one tiny bit of sponge which got stuck to the side of the tin.  I had greased it, too.

Later on I served the Apple Amber Cake up for pudding.  I had a tiny mouthful and found it quite sugary, even with my sweet tooth. Funnily enough Mr SmartCookieSam, who doesn’t have a sweet tooth liked it and over the next couple of days had more slices of it.  My son ate the cake and meringue bit and left the fruit! I will definitely have a go at baking it again but was wondering if there was a way of reducing the sugar content in the meringue and the apple puree so that it didn’t taste so sweet.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Frosted Walnut Layer Cake from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

Last week it was my turn along with two others to provide supper for all the ladies at my local WI meeting.  When we sort out the supper rota at the beginning of the year I always volunteer to do my turn depending on when the school holidays are.  Luckily this time I managed to do April’s meeting as it fell during the Easter holidays.  This means it’s easier to get things ready, like baking a few little goodies.

Though I’m glad I had time to experiment in the kitchen this time.  I wanted to try out some more recipes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible as part of my Cooking The Books Challenge, so I planned to bake a Frosted Walnut Layer Cake.   To help even more I was lucky to have both my daughter and her friend in the kitchen with me. My daughter’s friend is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award and wanted to gain some baking skills and more knowledge. So I got them both involved with tasks and it helped the baking go with a swing.

My daughter's friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
My daughter’s friend set to chopping up some walnuts to go in the filling of the cake.
Two 20cm/ 8" diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
Two 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins were greased and lined.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
All the ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, self raising flour, baking powder and the chopped walnuts) were all added to the mixing bowl and beaten until thoroughly blended.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.
Here are the two Walnut Cakes turned out to cool on the wire rack.

By this time it was getting busy in the kitchen.  I was trying to rush through each stage of the various cakes I had to make and then upon reading the recipe I realised I had to make a meringue frosting.  The egg whites and caster sugar had to be  continually whisked over a bowl of hot water, which took a very long time.  It was meant to thicken up but it just didn’t. No matter how hard I whisked it,  it just stayed runny.  By the time I had got round to making the frosting I had baked all the other things and I hadn’t got any eggs left to start again from scratch.  I was even low on butter so I couldn’t even make another batch of icing like a buttercream.  In the end I tried more whisking and after another ten minutes it finally thickened a little.  It still wasn’t enough to spread on the cake,  more like to pour it on as you’ll see from all the following pictures.

Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
Spreading the frosting on one of the layers of the cake.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting.  The cake was finished with walnut halves.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting. The cake was finished with walnut halves.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!

I was so disappointed with the cake that I didn’t dare take it along to my WI meeting.  I was so ashamed of it and it looked so messy.  It went into the fridge and there it stayed.  Over the weekend a couple of days later when my mum was staying she had a piece and said it was lovely.  I tasted a mouthful and thought the icing was very sweet but I did like the walnut cake part.  I’ll definitely try and make it again when I’m not in a rush as it looks such a delicious cake.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx