Coming from a family of orchardists has its consequences – namely, strong fluctuations in my fruit supply. No nectarines in April, nor May, nor June or July. Come the warmer months, though, and I have more than I can possibly eat. Repeat with figs, pears, plums, and an array of other fruits. When each wave hits I need to think about what I can do, other than eating as is, with the fruit. Apple season recently hit, so questions were abound on what to do, other than just a standard apple pie.
I made a few different things – stewed apples with custard, gruyere with caramelised onion and apple toasties, and oven baked apples with mascarpone – but the pièce de résistance was this delicious ricotta and caramel apple cake. This cake is really good. It is also really big – four layers big! This recipe can easily be reduced by a half, though it may require an adjustment to the cake tin size and possibly the number of layers.
450g self-raising flour
450g caster sugar
2 teaspoon bicarbonate sodaCaramel apples
250g caster sugar
1kg peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (other varieties will work, too)
3 tsp cinnamon
125g whipping cream
100g icing sugar
- To make the cake base, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and light. Gradually add the eggs and continue to beat. Add the flour and bicarbonate soda, mixing until the batter is smooth and all ingredients well-incorporated.
- Split the cake mixture into two 22cm round cake tins and bake at 180 degrees for ~40 minutes, or until the centre of the cake is cooked (use a knife to test that it has set). When ready, leave the cakes to cool in the tin before removing.
- To make the ricotta cream, mix the ricotta and icing sugar and blend until smooth and creamy. A stick blender works well for this.
- To make the caramel apples, begin by adding the sugar to a saucepan and leaving on a high heat. Eventually the sugar will begin to melt – stir to evenly distribute the heat until all of the sugar has melted. Continue stirring until the sugar takes on a caramel brown colour (how brown depends on taste. A deeper brown will result in a more bitter caramel, which can balance the sweet cake and ricotta well).
- Add the butter to the browned sugar and stir. Continue by adding the cream, stirring until everything is well incorporated and the mixture resembles a smooth caramel sauce.
- Add the diced apple, whiskey and cinnamon. Stir well. Continue to stir every few minutes until the apples are very soft and most of the liquid has evaporated (though some liquid should remain – it will moisten the cake). Let the apple mixture cool for 10-20 minutes.
- To assemble the cake take each cooled cake base and cut in half. You should end up with four equally sized circular cakes layers.
- Begin by placing the first layer on a cake serving plate or stand. Evenly spread half of the apple mixture across the base, including some of the liquid. Place the next cake layer on top. Use a piping bag or spatula to add a generous layer of the ricotta cream. Add the third cake layer, and top with the remaining apple mixture, though reserving some of the liquid. Add the final cake layer and gently compress from the top to ensure the layers are well stuck together.
- Pour or brush the reserved caramel apple liquid over the top as a glaze