Saturday 1 August 2009

Apple and date cake

My mum brought me a generous wedge of an apple and date cake that she had made a few months back. She likes apple cakes more than I do but we both agree that this one is glorious! Soft, moist, dark and covered with a caramel and coconut topping, I wanted to eat it all at once. It was so good that I kept asking for the recipe till she remembered to bring it on one of her visits. I am sorry to say I didn’t get the name of the magazine that produced such a superb recipe.

I have made it twice over the last couple of weeks. It is the sort of cake that you want to pull down the blinds and refuse to answer the door so you don’t have to share it. And leaving the house when it is fresh out of the oven is very very hard. I made it just before having to go out and I left reluctantly. But it was probably just as well, because otherwise I might have been tempted to just keep on eating. And returning home to this cake is a joyous moment.

Think of just how soft and satisfyingly sweet sticky date pudding is. Then imagine mingling apples with the dates to soak up the caramelly goodness. Now instead of a toffee sauce that has to be prepared separately, there is a topping baked on. The topping is its crowning glory. It is crispy, crunchy, chewy and sweet. I actually left mine to bake a bit more because it looked uncooked but I think it actually cooks enough and will continue to cook as the cake cools. However I was told by E and Yav and Chris that it was deliciously crunchy.

E loved it too. Much better than my chocolate cakes, he said. He preferred it warm with cream. But I just loved it soft and falling apart in my hand. It keeps quite well for a few days. Beyond that I can’t tell you. The first time I made it simply because it was just so delicious. I ran out of both castor sugar and plain flour when making it. I liked it so much with raw sugar and some wholemeal flour that this is the way I made it again last weekend.

I had offered to make a cake to take to visit Yavanna and Chris, who had invited us to lunch. I made the cake the day before and exercised great self control in not sampling a piece before leaving home. We had a delicious lunch of quiche and salad and the best baked potatoes I have had for ages. Then, seated with a cuppa and a piece of cake, Yavanna and Chris were charmed by Sylvia playing on the rug. Meanwhile, Yavanna and Chris’s gorgeous cat, Mignon, charmed us. Isn’t she a bright eyed and bushy tailed sweetie! The cake was praised by everyone.

It was a pleasant and relaxing afternoon, catching up with friends. We left most of the cake with Yav and Chris, and returned home with a wedge that didn’t last long. I’d like to say that Zinc was as alert as Mignon, but she spent most of the evening curled up sleeping in a new spot, on the back of an armchair.

Apple and date cake
(adapted from a recent magazine)

2 green apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
1 cup pitted dated, chopped
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 cup boiling water
125g unsalted butter
1 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup plain white flour
½ cup plain wholemeal flour

60g unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed*
2 tablespoons milk*

Place dates, then apples in a small mixing bowl or large measuring jug. Sprinkle with bicarb soda. Pour the boiling water over them, cover and leave to cool. This took me about 1½ hours.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until pale and creamy (I did this by hand but you could do it with electric beaters). Beat in egg and vanilla essence. Fold flours and apple mixture into the creamed mixture in two lots.

Spoon into a greased and lined 23cm round cake tin (I used a 22cm round springform tin) and bake in a moderate oven (180 C) for 45-50 minutes.

Five minutes before the cake comes out of the oven prepare the topping. Mix all topping ingredients together in a small bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Or mix ingredients in a small saucepan over gentle heat til butter has melted and sugar has dissolved.

Remove cake from oven and spread the topping over the cake. Return to the oven for 15-30 minutes or until cake is cooked (when a skewer is inserted and comes out clean). The recipe says to cool in the tin. Apart from lack of self-control where a freshly baked cake is concerned, I found that the topping stuck to the sides of the tin and it helped to run a knife around the sides to loosen it soon after it came out of the oven. If you use a springform pan, you can carefully loosen the sides while it is still warm.

*Update: alternatively use half a cup of condensed milk, 60g butter and 2/3 cup of shredded coconut in topping to make lumberjack cake.

On the Stereo:
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic: The Sundays


  1. That looks like such a gorgeous cake Johanna, sticky and moist and really delicious. Definitely on my to-bake list now!

    Love the pussy-cat pictures too!!!

  2. Looks and sounds delicious! I think I'd like it with cream too ;) Oh, all ways. This will go on the list.

  3. Ah, and here I thought I was being original with my black kitty. I just posted the add-on and came to your blog. Go figure. Check out Kerouac (of course, a literary name) at
    The Writing Gourmet

  4. Mmm I'm coming over for cake!!!

    And wow, Mignon is gorgeous! Look at those eyes.

    Zinc is equally beautiful. My Charlotte is more of a zinc personality type :P

  5. Thanks C - it is wonderfully sticky

    Thanks cathy - it is like a pudding if you warm it and have it with cream

    Thanks Cal - Kerouac is a great name for your cat

    Thanks Vegetation - wish I had a slice of it to offer you right now (and a slice for me too) - oh yes, Zinc has plenty of personality like charlotte

  6. I love your description of that cake and the part about closing the blinds and not answering the door! Ha Ha. I am going to have make this gluten free soon.

    By green apples, do you mean apples that are not yet ripe or green apples like Granny Smith apples? Is vanilla essence the same as vanilla extract for those of us in the U.S.?

    Mignon is a beauty. Her name suits her. Zinc looks like a wonderful laid back cat, too, and Zinc is a very cool name! We have two cats ... very different in personality and both beautiful, of course. LOL Their names are Huckleberry and Marble. One is gray very fluffy (looks like a Maine coon cat) and the other is black and white medium fluffy. Both just celebrated their BDs this past week. They are 13 and 14, but still pretty active.


  7. Ooo...better than chocolate cake! Delicious.

    Bookmarked straight away.

    Zinc is looking as handsome as ever and very comfortable up there!

  8. Apple season is coming soon, here in Estonia, Johanna. Great cake idea for Granny Smith apples. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. There is a very similar recipe with coconut in the topping, on Nigella Lawson's website - so maybe the recipe is from delicious. since she is a contributor.

  10. Now this sounds like my sort of cake - bookmarked forthwith!! Beautiful cat photos too - Zinc looks very cosy :)

  11. Thanks Shirley - Green apples are granny smiths and vanilla extract is similar to vanilla essence but I think the latter is stronger tasting - I love your cats names - they sound very snuggly

    Thanks Lucy - I have to agree this is better than chocolate cake - and I don't often agree with E on cakes

    Thanks Pene - I have a few more apple recipes coming because we have have lots of apples here - I saw the recipe on nigella's site but it didn't seem to be from nigella - I will try and check with my mum - she buys delicious so you might be right

    Thanks Lysy - a sleepy cat does make the house feel very cosy in winter :-)

  12. I can see why you didn't want to share! But better than chocolate cake? Hmm. I'll have to see whether I agree w/ E or not!

  13. Thank you so much for this recipe - had to make it as soon as I saw it and planning to try it soon with some walnuts

  14. Thanks Ricki - I'll look forward to your judgement :-)

    Thanks Lisa - glad you liked it - look forward to hearing how it goes with walnuts - I had thought of adding spices such as cinnamon!

  15. Johanna - I baked this again this weekend and added a large handful of chopped pecans, they were a great addition adding a lovely crunch.

  16. I had this cake in a cafe in Christchurch, NZ. Best cake ive ever had and have been searching for a recipe ever since. Thanks so much!

  17. Hi there, this cake looks and sounds delicious. But I'm wondering about the coconut topping you mention in the opening paragraph - you don;t seem to include it in the recipe. Have I overlooked a note about that? I really want to make this for a morning tea at work (Christmas in July -Melbourne). Should I just add a little bit of shredded coconut in the topping and then bake?

    Many thanks

  18. Hi Anonymous - thanks for spotting this error - I have since found that lumberjack is exactly the same recipe except with coconut so I guess I just made lumberjack cake and forgot the coconut - chinese whispers in recipes I suspect! I have found one recipe very similar that uses coconut so you could get the quantities from there and I will try to fix it on the post as I will soon post about a lumberjack cake I made


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)