This cake is my insurance policy for a sweeter tomorrow. When you have a selection of cakes covered in icing, fruit and chocolate as we did for Séan’s birthday, a humble brown cake doesn’t exactly steal the limelight. When all else is but crumbs, there’s every chance you will have a slice or two of apple cake left the next day to enjoy in blissful isolation with a cup of coffee.
Just the right amount of leftovers.
I based this cake on a recipe I found here. I adjusted it to work in a two-litre bundt tin as I don’t have a three-litre one, and added maple syrup to the glaze. I also sprinkled over some praline, as I think it’s often good to have a little sweet, nutty crunch with your cake, but you can leave it out if you like.
Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with Maple Syrup Glaze
For the optional praline:
125g shelled hazelnuts
200g caster sugar
For the cake:
200g plain flour, plus a little more for dusting the tin
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cardamom
Good pinch of ground cloves
½ tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little more for dusting the tin
250g caster sugar
80g light muscovado sugar
Finely grated zest of a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
3-4 tbsp milk
For the glaze:
70g light muscovado sugar
50ml whipping cream or double cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
30g unsalted butter
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
If you’re using the praline, make it first. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Scatter the hazelnuts in a roasting tin and place them in the oven. If the hazelnuts still have their skins, roast for 7-8 minutes until the skins are just blackened. Tip them into a clean tea towel, cover and leave for a minute before rubbing vigorously to remove the skins – don’t worry too much about getting every speck off. If they’re already skinned, simply roast them for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
Line a baking sheet with Silpat or lightly buttered baking parchment. Warm a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat – it’s best to use one with a shiny interior rather than a dark, non-stick one as it will make it easier to see when the caramel is the right colour. Tip the sugar into the pan in a thin, even layer. When the sugar starts to melt, stir it gently to encourage it to melt evenly. When it has dissolved, stop stirring and watch it carefully. When it has turned a rich, golden amber, tip in the nuts and quickly stir with a fork before tipping out onto the prepared baking sheet. Cool completely then either chop roughly with a knife or pulse in a blender. You’ll have more than you need for this cake, but it keeps well in an airtight jar and you can use the leftovers to decorate other cakes and puddings.
Lower the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3. Thoroughly grease a two-litre bundt tin with butter. Scatter in some flour and cover the tin with cling film. Give everything a very good shake, remove the cling film and tap the tin to remove excess flour. This will show up any spots you’ve missed with the butter, so give them a little touch up.
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt. I sift them twice so that everything is well combined but I’m sure this isn’t strictly necessary.
Peel and core the apples and grate them coarsely. Pat them with some kitchen paper to remove excess liquid. You should have about 225g apples.
In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Fold in the flour mixture with a metal spoon and then gently fold in the apples. Mix in enough milk to make a smooth batter. Spoon into the prepared tin and gently smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out onto a rack set over a plate.
While the cake is cooking, make the glaze. Stir together all of the ingredients in a small, non-stick pan over a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. Raise the heat slightly and whisk until the mixture comes together into a smooth, glossy sauce.
While the cake is still warm, pierce the top all over with a skewer and pour over the glaze, allowing it to soak into the cake before pouring over more. Use a spatula to scrape the glaze which has dripped from the cake onto the plate back into the pan. Warm it through and pour it over the cake. Sprinkle on some praline and cool for a further 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.