I had a small meetup with some good friends on Saturday, actually, large, if you consider the skype meetup with the other good friends in the US/Singapore now. It was fantastic having everyone there, virtual or physical, and it was a fine night. It was a fine day too, what with London's freak summer in october and I spent the day doing things I love- managing the farmers' market at Pimlico in the morning and in the afternoon, cooking.
The menu was heavily spiced, despite the hot hot weather, because the cook gets to choose and I'm very biased towards spice (: Carrot and lentil soup, masala minced beef and kidney beans chilli, curry spices-roasted chicken drumsticks, chilli and garlic roast cauliflower, and spiced basmati rice. I didn't want to do anything difficult, so it was stuff that needed hardly any attention or exact recipes, mostly just cooked according to taste, smell, and the things that caught my eye in the kitchen and the market.
Oh, except for the cake. I'm not a great baker so I always turn to recipes for them, double-check for positive reviews, and then pray for good results. I know it's not the prettiest of cakes, but I would say it turned out really good, and if you like soft, moist squidgy apple-y cakes, you'll probably love this. I was happily surprised, because me being me, I reached for five-spice powder instead of cinnamon.. same colour, sorry. But all's well that ends well, and it even got roommate-approved (she's a brilliant baker).
Five Spice Moist Apple Cake (adapted from here)
makes an 8" square cake
125g grassfed unsalted butter
225g fine unrefined brown cane sugar
2 eggs, beaten
225g organic plain flour (can be adapted for gluten free baking using 90g superfine rice flour, 90g sticky rice flour, 45g tapioca starch, I'll test one day)
enough whole (full-fat please) grassfed milk to loosen the batter
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp cinnamon (because I realised after the first tsp)
300g apples (I used 3-4 small egremot russets--ugly skin but incredible sweet flesh, and 1 large saturn-- beautiful red sweet juicy firm. Don't settle for the boring galas or coxes from the supermarket!)
3 tbsp honey + 1 tbsp melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius.
2. Cream the softened butter and sugar for 2 min, then mix in the beaten egg.
3. Sift flour, spices and baking powder together and fold into the mixture, adding enough milk to loosen the batter.
4. Peel and chop up the russets and stir into the mix. Slice the saturn apple into thin slices for later.
5. Pour into a buttered, baking paper-lined springform cake tin, or in my case an 8" deep baking tray. (opt) If attempting to make rushed cake look prettier, arrange the apple slices on top, overlapping.
6. Bake for 1 hour, until risen and browned and a skewer inserted comes out clean. About 10 min before it's about to be done, glaze with the butter and honey.
It was a mistake that turned out to be a good thing, because there was just that very subtle hint of fennel, cloves and star anise in the background, in addition to the cinnamon. In fact, it's probably not detectable, though you do get a sense of "something extra". The batter is going to go into my bookmarked collection of recipes, because it's simple and delicious- tender and moist, not airy like a sponge (which I usually hate) but not at all dense or stodgy, and will probably work just as well with whatever fruits are in season.