Welsh Harvest Cake

I went to a farmer's market yesterday and couldn't resist buying yet more apples. It's the time of the year for them, for pies, cakes, chutney, jam. What could I do with them that would be something different? I remembered some apple recipes I'd cut out of a magazines ages ago, so I looked through them and found this one. I'm sure there are many recipes for regional Harvest Cakes, but my being Welsh, this recipe seemed very appropriate, and it's not long since we had Harvest.The countryside around us has been buzzing with combines and tractors.
It's an unusual cake because the fruit is put in in middle like a sandwich filling, and it seems as if there's much too much fruit for the batter. But have faith, all will be well!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 18cm cake tin

Melt 175g butter with 175g soft brown sugar - don't worry if it's not all dissolved, but stir it. Cool for a bit then add 2 beaten eggs. Sift 225g sr flour together with 1 tspn mixed spice and 1 tspn cinnamon then add the melted ingredients and mix together.
Put 450g apples [this is the weight after coring and chopping] with 100 g of dried fruit [sultanas and currants] and 50g flaked almonds in a bowl and mix together.
Spoon half of the cake batter into the tin then add the fruit and nuts then spoon the rest of the batter on top. It looks an awful lot of fruit to mixture, but don't worry.
Smooth the top of the cake batter and bake for about an hour.
Leave it in the tin for about half an hour to cool then turn out onto a wire rack.

I served this as a pudding today with a little cream; the fruit was nice and juicy and the cake had a good hit of spices. A good cake to have in my folder. We'll try it cold tomorrow, and see which we prefer.


Peanut, chocolate and pecan cookies

My grandsons came for the weekend, and as the weather wasn't very kind, I wanted to find something to do with them. They enjoy cooking, so we made some cookies.
The original recipe had walnuts in it, but I needed to use up the last of my pecans. We found the recipe in an old Blue Peter book, which had belonged to the boys' Dad. They were then called biscuits, but cookies sounded more modern.
They all took a turn beating the mixture, adding ingredients and making the cookies into balls. I have to own up that I drizzled the chocolate over the ones in the photo - their efforts had the chocolate mainly over the worktop! They proudly took the finished cookies [well most of them!] home for their Mum, and wanted to take some in their lunch boxes.
We made 15 cookies.

Preheat oven 190C/gas5 and grease 2 baking trays.

Put 125g butter, 70g soft brown sugar and 70g caster sugar in a bowl and beat together till nice and creamy. Add 1 beaten egg and beat into the mixture. Fold in 200g of plain flour which has had 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda added, then add 2 tbspn of crunchy peanut butter, 100g chopped chocolate and 100g chopped nuts.
Mix it all together, then pull together with your hands to make a ball of stickyish dough. If it's too sticky just add a little more flour.
Make 15 balls and put them on the baking trays, leaving some space for the cookies to spread. Squash them down a bit.
Bake for 10-12 mins till golden and cool on a wire rack.
Melt 100g chocolate and either drizzle the chocolate over the cookies, using a fork to make lines, or put the chocolate in an icing bag and pipe lines over.

We only tried one each, so they could take the rest home. Lovely textures - crunch from the peanuts and pecans, then a good hit of chocolate. Very moreish.


Apple Ginger Cake

Another simple but delicious apple cake.
Many years ago I entered a competition in a small magazine called 'Home and Freezer Digest'. You had to send in your favourite apple recipe, and the best 100 would be published. I did get a recipe [called 'Nutty Apples'] in the book, and I won a copy of the book [100 Best Apple Recipes] and a year's worth of the magazine. Why am I saying all this, well I found the rather tatty book in the loft recently, and it has some great apple recipes in it.
I still had a few of the windfall apples left so decided top make an apple and ginger cake from the book.
It's a small cake, so perfect for the 2 of us. It's unusual because the apple puree is mixed into the cake mixture rather than being a layer in the middle of the cake. This gives the cake a good flavour.
It could be used as a pudding with some custard - ideal for this colder weather.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

You need:
225g of apples [I used the windfalls and an odd Bramley to make up the amount] - cored, peeled and sliced.
You cook these with 25g of sugar and 2 tbspn of water over a low heat till soft, then beat them into a puree.
Put 50g soft brown sugar, 100g golden syrup and 75g butter in a large pan and gently melt. Leave to cool down.
Sieve 150g sr flour with 2 tspns of ginger and 2 tspns of cinnamon and add to the pan with 1 beaten egg and the apple puree. Mix together well.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about 35-40 mins till golden. Cool in tin for a few mins then cool on a wire rack.
I made a rather poor layer of icing for the top [ ran out of icing sugar!] using a little apple juice instead of water.

As you can see from the photo, I decided to take out a little of the apple before it was cooked, to give a bit of texture to the cake.

It's a spongy texture, quite dense, with a fresh taste from the pureed apples. Glad I left some apple a bit chunky as it added another bit of texture, and there's a good hit of spices. Liked the icing, and it was enough for us, as we don't like things too sweet. A different kind of apple cake, and one I'll certainly make again.


Autumn Apple Loaf

This is my kind of cake - a nice simple apple loaf cake - just right for using up some apple windfalls which a friend gave me. Have been busy making chutney and trying apple butter [delicious]. I made some apple muffins and scones for my children to take, and this loaf for us. It's also nice as a dessert.

You preheat oven 170C/gas3 and line a 900g loaf tin with some baking parchment.

Using an electric mixer, beat 175g caster sugar and  175g butter together till nice and fluffy then add 3 eggs, one at a time. Add a tspn of vanilla extract and mix in.
In another bowl mix 225g of plain flour together with a tspn of baking powder, a tspn of ginger and a tspn of cinnamon.
Add this to the batter and fold in. Then add about 25ml milk to make a soft batter.

Peel and core about 3 small apples - chop most of it into small pieces, but leave a few pieces to slice for the top of the loaf. Mix the apple pieces into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the tin and arrange the slices along the top. Sprinkle about a tbspn of dark brown sugar over the slices.

Bake for about an hour till golden.

                          A lovely moist cake; you can taste the spices and then the soft apples pieces.

                                   I suppose the recipe is really a variation on a basic Madeira cake.

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