Celebrations call for cake and Christmas is no exception: I thought there had to be a cake in this year’s holiday series, but not the traditional one – it’s not my cup of tea, really (sorry, purists). :) I think it is too dense, too packed with dried fruits, too boozy, and what I wanted was something completely different: tender and perfumed with spices.
When I saw a recipe for an eggnog apple cake I knew I had to look no further: I immediately remembered the eggnog cake I made years ago and it was so delicious that the addition of apples would only be a good thing, and I was right. In this cake, the apple cubes are cooked in brandy before being folded into the cake batter, but I was out of brandy and kind of cheated a little, using sherry instead.
While I was cooking the apples with the booze, my husband came to the kitchen to see what I was making: he got curious because it smelled so great – that coming from a man who never eats fruit and doesn’t like sweets (nobody’s perfect, right?) had to be a sign that something delicious was happening in my kitchen, and indeed it was.
Eggnog apple cake
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious Indulgent Cakes
2 medium Granny Smith apples (380g/14oz in total), peeled and chopped in small cubes
¼ cup (60ml) brandy*
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
170g unsalted butter, softened
80g cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
225g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon table salt
icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x7cm (8x2.8in) round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter it as well.
In a large frying pan, combine the apples, brandy and ¼ cup sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Cook until apples are soft, about 5 minutes. Cool completely.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, extra sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the sides of the bowl. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in the apples with the liquid. Transfer to prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for about 1 hour or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then carefully unmold, peel off the paper and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust with icing sugar to serve.
* I was out of brandy and used sherry instead