I have a confession to make: I’m one of those really annoying people who just will not follow a recipe. I can’t help it. There’s creativity in my bones, and I’m drawn to changing things in an effort to make them even better.
So naturally, I couldn’t leave this apple cake recipe alone. It could have swum on through the internet, living out a successful life on the Pinterest boards of many, untouched by my meddling fingers. But thank goodness it didn’t.
Crumble cakes are kind of brilliant. After all, why only have a cake, when you can have the lovechild of cake and crumble? Sweet, comforting, warm apple cake, with the added crunch and zing of spicy crumble topping. I fully advocate adding crumble to normal foods, especially when it comes to creating a crumble/pie hybrid that’s sure to please those in both the Apple Crumble Camp and the Apple Pie Camp (it’s not just my family that’s divided on the subject, right?).
I also discovered it’s pretty good for helping to make friends with new neighbours who may or may not think you’re a little bit mad. My only advice would be to not ambush your neighbour, foiled package in hand, sporting post-baking hair and tracksuit bottoms, to force them to take said cake off your hands so you won’t eat it all. That might come across a little nutty.
But back to the cake. The recipe is loosely based on a crumble-less apple cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and will make two loaves.
3 apples, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable or sunflower oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
40g pecan halves, chopped
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1) Toss apple chunks in sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Set oven to 180C.
2) Mix together salt, baking powder, and flour. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together oil, sugar, juice, and vanilla. Add these wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well.
3) Add eggs one at a time. The mixture may seem like it’ll never come together. Stick with it!
4) To make the crumble topping, rub together the butter, sugar, and flour until you get a crumb consistency. Stir in the cinnamon and chopped pecans.
5) When the batter is thoroughly mixed, pour into your prepared loaf tin until about half full. Next, add a layer of apple chunks, and then another layer of batter to cover the apples. Finally sprinkle on the topping and bake for about an hour, or until a tester/knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. If the topping starts to burn at any point, cover it with foil.
Although it’s delicious warm, this cake also keeps well and improves after a day – if it lasts that long!