Belinda Jeffery

Apple, Pecan And Cinnamon Crumble Cake

Whenever I bake this cake I think of my mum, Cooee, as she always liked to have homemade cake in the house to offer visitors, but if she was caught out and the cake tin was bare (more often than not due to my siblings and my surreptitious raids on it!) she would whip up, by magic it seemed to me, a buttery cinnamon tea cake much like this. I so clearly remember watching her dot the top with tiny flakes of butter which melted in and gave it the most wonderful flavour. This is my apple version of her cake, which in this case sports a crunchy cinnamon, sugar and pecan crumble topping, but other than that the recipe stands pretty much as she used to make it and has a lovely ‘old-fashioned’ flavour. Just don’t expect it to be a high-rise cake – it’s quite slender, and more like a cross between a cake and a tart. It‘s just the sort of thing that served warm would make a wonderful pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • Serves 10.

  • Cinnamon and pecan crumble:

  • 130g lightly roasted pecans
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 40g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • Cake:

  • 1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 150g unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk, at room temperature
  • 500g (about 4 smallish) royal gala or pink lady apples, peeled, halved and cored, then cut into 4mm thick slices
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 180C. Butter a 25cm springform tin, and line the base with buttered baking paper, dust the tin with flour, then set it aside.

For the cinnamon and pecan crumble, put all the ingredients into a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and pulse until the pecans are coarsely chopped and mixture is crumbly (be careful not to let it go too far or it will turn into a paste). Tip it into a bowl and pop it in the fridge.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the food processor, and whiz them together for 10 seconds or so, then tip them into a bowl too. Now, put the sugar and eggs into the processor bowl and whiz them together for 1 minute. Add the butter and process for another minute, stopping and scraping down the sides once or twice, until the mixture is creamy. Stir the vanilla into the milk then add half this mixture and half the flour mixture to the processor and whiz briefly, scrape down the sides again. Add the remaining milk and flour mixtures to the processor and whiz just until the batter is smooth – don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled at this stage, it will be fine.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared cake tin. Arrange the apples slices in a layer covering the batter, partially pushing the slices into the batter. Sprinkle the crumble in a thick layer all over the apple, then gently shake the tin to level the crumble.

Pop the tin in the oven and bake the cake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the top is dark golden and a fine skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake to a wire rack and leave it to cool in the tin for about 6 minutes (it will sink a bit) then gently invert it onto the rack (If you sit a sheet of baking paper on top of the cake before you do this, it will stop the crumble flying off). Remove the lining paper then sit another rack on top, and invert the cake again so it’s crumble-side up. Serve warm or room temperature. Just before serving, dust the top with icing sugar.