Juicy chunks of apple in a soft golden sponge with a hint of rum and spice and lemon. There’s nothing cutting edge about this other than the serving of it. It’s just all good. Not a rum fan? Leave it out…
- Get the butter and eggs to room temperature before you start. Grease and line the base and sides of a deep square loose-based cake tin 20 x 20cm. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
- Peel, core and dice the apple into 5mm chunks. Tip them into a bowl. Dice the dates and add those. Sprinkle with the 4 teaspoons rum, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Turn the mix to coat it evenly. Set aside to allow the flavours to infuse for at least 5 minutes.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon cinnamon onto a large plate.
- Tip the soft butter into a mixing bowl. Cream it round using a wooden spoon to break it up and soften it further. Add the sugar. Cream the two together using a powerful wrist action for 3 minutes until the base mix is white (cream in the case of brown sugar) and very white. You can also use an electric or free standing mixer if you have one.
- Crack the eggs into a cup or small bowl. Beat them well using a fork.
- Here’s the tipping point with a sponge mix. The aim is to add the egg a little at a time, whilst beating constantly with your spoon or mixer, until you have a smooth mix. If it starts to curdle, add a teaspoon of the flour mix immediately and beat it furiously. It will taste fine but won’t be quite as light.
- Tip the flour onto the creamed mix. Use your largest metal spoon to fold it in
- using as few light, scooping figure of eight movements as possible.
- Gently fold in the apple, grated lemon rind and juice, vanilla extract, and as much milk or rum needed until the mix is just soft enough to drop easily off the end of your spoon. Have a quick taste. Add a bit more lemon if it needs it.
- Spoon the mix lightly and evenly into the tin without pressing it down.
- Bake for 35- 40 minutes or until a cocktail stick/thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Try not to open the door to check too early. And open and close it gently to avoid the cake sinking. But if it browns up too soon, slip a piece of greaseproof paper over it. Remove when done. Sit the cake on a rack to cool. After 15 minutes push up through the loose base to remove it. Peel the lining paper off carefully, particularly at the corners as the apple will be sticky. Leave to cool completely or eat now.
- Sift a little icing sugar over the cake just before you serve it. Cut it into pieces at the table.
- If eating warm, serve with ice-cream or clotted cream or double cream whipped with a little icing sugar and rum and cinnamon or a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt. This cake is best on the day it’s cooked. But it’s still good the next day -maybe for breakfast or in a pack-up.