As with any classic recipe, there are probably hundreds of slightly varying versions of how to make a Dutch apple cake. The only test that matters is: does it taste good? This one does; I have been tinkering with it for a while and the absolute best version of it comes when it is made with duck eggs. They are fairly easy to obtain now and make a huge difference to cakes, perhaps because of the slight difference of the chemical make-up of the whites, but they give a lovely pillowy foam when whipped and make this cake featherlight.
Hens eggs are, of course, absolutely fine. The most crucial step here, whichever eggs you use, is to whip the eggs and sugar for at least 5 minutes in order to get as much air in to the mix as possible. It is also important to use the right size tin; I use a 30cm x 25cm baking dish that I normally use for lasagne – any smaller than that and the mix becomes a little too deep and requires longer to cook through, which in turn dries out the edges of the cake.
225g unsalted butter
3 duck eggs (or 4 medium hens eggs)
225g golden caster sugar
the zest of a lemon, finely grated
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
250g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
2 heaped tsp ground mixed spice
500g cooking apples (Bramley or similar)
25g flaked almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5.
Weigh out all of the ingredients. Melt the butter in a saucepan set over a low heat; set aside.
Using an electric hand whisk, whisk the eggs and 150g of the sugar together for at least five minutes until the mixture has expanded and is thick and smooth. The whisks should leave a thick trail when removed. You can use a stand mixer to do this while you get on with something else, but I find the hand whisk gets much more air into the mix.
Beat in the lemon zest and juice, then carefully drizzle the melted butter into the mix while whisking continually. The volume will decrease slightly, that’s okay and expected, the mix is now much heavier.
Now sift the flower, baking powder and ground mixed spice into the batter. Gently fold into the batter until it is just combined – take care to be gentle so you don’t knock the air out of the batter.
Grease your baking dish with butter, pour the batter into the dish and set aside while you prepare the topping.
Combine the flaked almonds, cinnamon and 50g of the sugar in a large bowl. Peel and core the apples, cut into eighths, then thinly slice the apples (1mm thick or so). Toss the sliced apple thoroughly in the sugar mix and then scatter over the top of the batter. Press down very lightly to get a more or less level topping, then sprinkle with the remaining 25g of the sugar.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen and golden.
I love this with single cream, my wife loves it with custard. It’s easy to love…