Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing & the Winner of the Ottolenghi Cookbook

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing
My apologies for posting this a little late, it's been very exciting and tiring at the same time around here between Baby Saffron saying her first words (Dada and Yaya -the best way she can say her own name right now) and her first two teeth imminently about to burst through, resulting in rather rough patches.

The days are distinctly colder now, it's time to cover up, the fall colors are out and putting on their best show (well not necessarily here but I know in a lot of other places they are) and it's time to start eating comfort foods and waging war on our waistlines, but such sweet war it is. While I love going on a picnic on a hot summer day, wearing a sundress and maybe, if we are so lucky, having some place to swim after we eat, I really do prefer early fall days when the sun still beats strongly enough to overcome the crisp, somewhat biting air but the atmosphere has already been cleansed of the polluted haze left behind by the unblinking heat of summer.
You know those days, right after the rain, when the sky is an unfaltering deep blue, the breeze nips gently at your face and hands and the air smells fresh.

On such days, it is possible to feel invincible as a child does when he is let out of school and can run free through the park with his scooter, his nanny running wildly after him.
Boy at Battersea Park
On such days, it is possible to be brought to tears by some of the comments you left me to be eligible for the giveaway in the last post. This is where I have to tell you that I want to give each one of you an Ottolenghi Cookbook so that no one is left out, particularly when you gave me such precious or delicate gifts. Alas, that cannot be, but I want you all to know that in my head I'm giving you each a book. The actual book will travel to Mumbai (Bombay), India to Shaheen of Purple Foodie. Congratulations Shaheen, please send me your address so I can dispatch it to you! I hope you will let me know how you like it when you've tried some of the recipes in there.

In the giveaway post, I promised to give you the recipe for Ottolenghi's apple and olive oil cake with maple icing because it is sinfully good for such a hearty cake, particularly the icing. It is the perfect cake to take with you on a picnic to a nearby park on a gorgeous fall day, or to simply bake to have with tea or coffee on a grey, rainy day best spent at home. I like to think it's the sort of cake that my grandmother would have baked for me as an after school treat, had there been a Persian tradition of baking such cakes.
Apple & Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing

This cake is so incredibly moist, I was surprised when I actually bit into it the first time. I told A. that the icing was so good that he might decide to marry me again, but I do love maple syrup and muscovado sugar so I thought perhaps I was just being overly susceptible to their charms; he thought the cake and the icing were sinfully good. The apples and plumped sultanas give it an extra dimension both in taste and texture; the Bramleys, very tart green apples that look like Granny Smiths on steroids, balancing out the sweetness of the sugar and sultana raisins in the recipe. If you like apple cakes that are rustic but good enough and pretty enough, particularly with the icing, to be served at tea for company, I do hope you will give this one a try, it's definitely a keeper in this kitchen.

I am sending this cake over to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen who is hosting the High Tea Treats edition of the Monthly Mingle (founded by the awesome Meeta of What's For Lunch Honey). While A. managed to eat the piece he is holding in the first picture with his hand, I do recommend the use of a fork to eat this cake because it can be quite crumbly and, well, it's probably best to let your high tea guests use forks to eat their food.

Finally, this is for those of you that asked if I am going to New Zealand in your comments. I can at least tell you that I am not going to New Zealand, so that is not the hint I was giving you, although I hope to go back there very soon.
Bluff New Zealand

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing
adapted from the Ottolenghi Cookbook
For an 8 inch cake that serves 6-8 (either 2 layers with icing in between or 1 cake with lots of icing on top or no icing and just dusted icing/confectioner's sugar)

For the cake:
80g or 3oz sultanas
4 tbsp water
280g or 2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
120ml or 1/2 cup olive oil
160g or 3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Bramley apples or 4 Granny Smiths
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites
icing/confectioner's sugar (optional) for dusting - if not making the icing*

For the icing:
100g or 1 stick - 2 tsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
100g or 1/2 cup light muscovado sugar
85ml or 3 oz maple syrup
220g or 1 cup cream cheese

For the cake:
- Heat the oven to 170C (325F)/Gas Mark 3.
- Grease (I used butter) a springform pan 20cm (8 in.) in diameter, then line the bottom and sides of it with baking parchment (if you are generous with your greasage, the baking parchment will adhere to the pan nicely which is very convenient when you want to get the cake out of it).
- Put the sultana raisins and the water in a saucepan and simmer on low heat until the water has been absorbed completely. Set aside to cool.
- Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda) and set aside.
- Peel, core and dice the apples into 1cm or 1/2 inch cubes. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, mix the olive oil and sugar together by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (which I have but I did it by hand so you can too).
- Slit the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the oil and sugar. Beat until well mixed (the vanilla can clump when you scrape it out so make sure to "de-clump" it).
- Add the lightly beaten eggs gradually, leaving you with a thick, smooth batter in the end.
- Add the diced apples, sultanas, and the lemon zest.
- Add the dry ingredients, folding in gently (you can do this in one go).
- In a separate clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.
- Fold the whisked egg whites very gently (to lose as little air as possible) into the main batter in 2 additions. 2 additions is best as the more additions you do, the more you are folding the batter and losing air.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth out the surface (there can be errant pieces of apple sticking out). Bake for an hour and a half or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (it took my oven about an hour and ten minutes so do check before the stipulated time if it looks done to you).
- Let cool completely in the pan.
 - The flavors of the cake mature over time so for best results wrap the cake in cling film/saran wrap and refrigerate for up to three days before assembly. That means make the icing on the day you will be eating the cake.

For the icing:
- Beat the butter, muscovado sugar and maple syrup together either by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I used my stand mixer for this) until light and airy. Add the cream cheese and continue beating until thoroughly blended and smooth.

To assemble:
- If you wish to put icing in between two layers, cut the cake in half using a serrated knife.
- Spread the icing as you wish, between two layers, over the top of the cake only, on top and on the sides, knock yourself out. I followed the directions but it doesn't mean you have to on this.
*- If you do not wish to make the icing, you can simply sift some icing sugar on the cake. Your waistline will thank you for it.

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Meeta K. Wolff said...

oh i am loving the pictures here! and that cake is incredible. i love olive oil in cakes it adds such a wonderful texture and flavor. thanks for sending this to the mingle. and congrats to shaheen!

Mowielicious said...

Gorgeous shots! I love how muscavado and olive oil make a cake so moist, but I've never used them together. And that icing looks amazing. Also, so exciting about Baby Saffron saying her first few words. Isn't it bizarre and annoying that even though mothers spend the most time with kids, the first words kids say are dada. So unfair, but I guess easier to pronounce?

And I have to say, so glad that the Purple Foodie won your competition... just check out how many times she entered my previous giveaway and didn't win =) I felt so bad!

Y said...

Ooh I want a big handful of cake! How exciting that Baby Saffron has started muttering :)

The Purple Foodie said...

Thank you so much for the cookbook, Hilda! I am so excited to be the recipient of this cookbook. I had added it to my wishlist, but looks like I can strike it off now. Thanks, again! :)

I've been wanting to try an olive oil cake after I read such nice things about the Alice Medrich's olive oil pound cake. Thanks for giving me the push! But looks like I'm going to have to skip the icing or sub maple for honey (can I?) because I don't have access to maple syrup here.

hehe Mowie - that Rachel Allen book - I couldn't help it. :P

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't blame the hubby - I'd grab a slice with my very hands if a cake like that appeared in front of me...
Wonder if it's in all languages babies say dad first - Cause in Portuguese is just the same, so unfair! :D

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

this cake looks delicious hilda! i love baby saffrons little hands...

Sara said...

This looks fantastic! Last year I lived in Nice and I will always appreciate olive oil (savory or sweet!) because of it. I love the idea of the maple frosting, maple syrup is such a perfect autumn flavor.

Lauren K. said...

This looks incredible! I've been looking for something unique to do with my fresh picked apples (and being a born and bred New Englander I can't imagine a better taste combination than to pair apples with maple syrup!!). I just wanted to comment about the saying "dada" first--I studied the formation of language in babies and small children and the phenome "da" is much easier for a child to physically create than "ma." My first word was "dog," go figure!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

This cake looks gorgeous. So good that I'm stumped for words except to say I wish we could get maple syrup here. :)

Your pictures are beautiful especially the litlle one's hand. She must be asking for cake!
Thanks for joining us at High Tea.

Anonymous said...

You had me at "Maple Icing"! It is my favorite sweetener. I'm definitely trying this cake soon. I love that is uses olive oil as well.

ps: The black & white photo of the little one on the steps gave me a flashback of that beautiful Italian film "L'avventura"

Hilda said...

Meeta- Thank you my sweet, I'm making the effort to improve the pictures of the food.

Mowie- Thank you. I know but unfortunately hard consonants are so much easier to say for them than soft ones like ma so I guess I have to wait.

Y- "muttering" I love that. That sort of totally fits with this new thing she's doing where she's locking her fingers together as if she's thinking deep thoughts (which she then mutters about).

Purple Foodie- Congrats Shaheen and you're welcome! I think you could sub honey for the maple syrup but you'd have to reduce the amount of muscovado sugar because honey is a lot sweeter than maple syrup I think, or add more cream cheese (or quark maybe?)

TheCookieShop- I'd give you a piece right now if I could.oh yes I think it's our lot as mothers, to have the soft consonant sounding names...

Aran- Thank you. Rustic is a different level of elegant on your blog which I aspire to. Oh and I do so love my little noodle's hands too.

Sara- Thank you. Hope you try it!

Aparna- Thank you sweetie, if I could send you some maple syrup by the post I would.

La Pastry Chef- Aren't you the sweetest with your comments, I'm adopting you.

Hilda said...

Lauren!- I skipped you by accident. Thank you, I hope you'll make it and enjoy. And the words, that's because of the hard vs. soft consonant sounds no?

Jamie said...

I don't know which is lovlier, the photographs (always) or the writing, the beautiful thoughts. Wonderful post and the cake looks luscious, moist and so flavorful. Thank you for the thought of giving me and each of us a book.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

A lovely cake and lovely views... :)

Colloquial Cook said...

I'm getting all nostalgic reading about Bramley apples. I'll go make myself a cup of builders' tea to fix this.
I'm plotting as we speak to get a one month scholarship in Oxford, but truth be told, I feel like I'm going to be researching cream tea a lot more thoroughly than 17th music treaties. I may need a study buddy. Interested? (err that's right they haven't given me the scholarship. I'll keep you poster :-)

Yulia said...

I made the pie today and was not dissapointed! Thank you for the recipe!

Elizabeth said...

mmm... maple icing....


Stacy said...

Oh my word, that cake looks amazing!

Unknown said...

Just looking at the picture made my mouth water; I love cake way too much for my own good.

Secretnatasha said...

Oh, man, that maple icing looks divine!

Anonymous said...

I've never had a cake with olive oil.. but the photograph makes it look sooooo sinfully delicious that I printed off the recipe!

You are an amazing photographer..

Finla said...

Heard aobut the book from deeba, i have never made a cake with olice oil. That creamy frosting look so so yumm.

Leah Wentzel said...

wow, i want that cake.

Unknown said...

That cake looks delicious!

poobail said...

Wow, looks very yummy. Wonder if it will work with rice flour instead of regular? hmmmm

Pat said...

This cake looks so rich and yummy. Maybe I can get Corey to make it for me the next time I visit.

Meg Kat said...

Oh my word, does that sound amazing. I've become such a fan of olive oil in baked goods (recently posted a recipe for Olive Oil Cheddar biscuits that I devoured way too quickly).

I will definitely have to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

Dbe said...

Maple icing...haven't thought about that in a very long time...

Kat said...

I have most of those ingredients here, I might have to try that!

Jeanne @ Cooksister said...

Gorgeous pics - is that the pagoda in Battersea Park that I can see in the B&W? Cake looks divine - as usual with Ottolenghi!

Sari @ Cook Your Dream said...

I love the first photo. I'd love to grab that piece of cake right from my screen! ;) Looks delicious.

Unknown said...


Love the pictures, descriptions.. okay so I AM reading this blog backwards but thoroughly enjoying every post and loving reading the comments also....

Andrew H. said...

Wow, looks great. Awesome pics. Now I need a woman who can cook.(My current gf can't)Thank you for doing this!

Anonymous said...

Loved the pictures of the Cakes very delicious looking ;)
also enjoyed the pictures. #Haiti

Anonymous said...

comment comment. thanks for the good work.

Ted said...

Leaving a comment for Haiti.

Amine said...

Thank you great article : Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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