Apple Almond Cake
This was inspired by a massive basket of apples that my mum gave me on my way back to London. I still have lots left but I think this is an especially great cake to bake at the weekend during these autumn months. I used a good quality sunflower spread which makes this a dairy-free cake as well as free of gluten. It is packed full of spices and flavour and made even better with a good spoonful of crème fraîche or whipped coconut cream.
250g sunflower spread
200g unrefined caster sugar
3 medium egg, lightly beaten
250g almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
For the apples
5 eating apples (I used brambly that were quite small)
3 tbsp unrefined caster sugar
1 tbsp sunflower spread
2 vanilla pods
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp Grand Marnier
For the topping
100g blueberries fresh or frozen
1 tsp unrefined caster sugar or honey
1 tsp water
small sprinkle of almond flakes and a light dusting of icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease a loose-bottom 10 inch cake tin and then line with baking parchment. Place in the fridge while you make the cake.
For the apple, use a mandolin to thinly slice the apples leaving the skins on. The thiner they are means the quicker they will cook. Set a large frying pan to a medium to high heat and add the sunflower spread to melt before adding in the apple slices. Scrape in the seeds from both vanilla pods, sugar, cinnamon and Grand Marnier. Use tongs to move everything around the pan and fry for about 5 minutes or until the apples are softened. Carefully scrape apples into a sieve over a bowl which will drain and catch the excess juices.
For the cake, place the sunflower spread, vanilla extract and sugar into a stand mixer or you can beat by hand but it will just take a little longer. Beat for about 3 minutes until it looks light and fluffy. Continue mixing while also slowly adding in a little of the beaten eggs followed by the dry ingredients, lemon zest and spices. Keep on adding in a little of each until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape batter into the prepared cake tin and then carefully place the apple pieces on top. Try to make sure that they are evenly scattered and swiftly place tin into the oven on the lower shelf. Bake for 35 minutes and then cover the top with tin foil to avoid burning. Bake for another 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out nearly clean. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake cools, add the blueberries to a saucepan on a medium to high heat along with the water and sugar. Let the flavours just combine and squash some of the fruit but leave most of the blueberries whole. This should only take about 4-5 minutes and then remove from the heat and drizzle over the apple cake. Dust over the icing sugar and almond flakes.
The cake will last for about 4 days covered in a cool dry place.