I've been a fan of The Waltons since it was broadcast on British TV in the early 1980's, and one of the Walton children's favourite cakes was Olivia's apple sauce cake. So when I got home with my haul of windfall apples, I picked up Leiths Baking Bible to see if they had a recipe. They do - along with recipes for 11 other apple cakes.
My windfall apples were sweeter than the cooking apples called for by Leith's, so I reduced the sugar by 50g and added the juice of half a lemon to sharpen it up a bit. First time around, I followed the recipe and added chopped, dried apricots to the mix, but I found their flavour a bit too dominant (perhaps because I used unsulphured apricots, which have a stronger, almost toffee-like flavour). For cake #2 I used raisins instead.
To make the apple sauce, wash and core (but do not peel) the apples, then roughly chop. Put into a pan with 1tbsp water, cover, and cook gently until pulpy. Stir occasionally while they cook, and make sure they don't dry out too much. I had to add a couple more good splashes of water while they cooked to stop them from catching on the bottom of the pan. Second time around, I made the apple sauce in a pressure cooker. To do this, place the chopped apples in the pressure cooker with the lemon juice and 280ml water, secure the lid, bring up to pressure and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Release the pressure, then strain the apples to remove the excess water. Whichever method you use, push the cooked apple pulp through a sieve to produce a smooth purée (the peel will be left behind).
Here's the recipe; if you're using sweet dessert apples, you can reduce the sugar by 50g.
Apple Sauce Cake
- 340g cooking apples
- juice of 1/2 lemon (optional, not in original recipe)
- 115g butter
- 225g caster sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 175g raisins or chopped dried apricots
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- Make the apple purée as described above, and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180℃; grease and line a 17cm round cake tin.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Sift in the flour, mixed spice, and bicarbonate of soda. Add the cooled apple purée and stir until well combined. Pour into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the cake is firm to the touch and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. N.B. my cake was done after about an hour: keep an eye on yours as it bakes and test after an hour; the time it takes will depend on your oven and the size of the tin. Ten minutes before the end of cooking, sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
- Cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
This is a simple recipe that makes a moist cake that will keep well. The taste is good, but the apple flavour doesn't come through as much as I expected.
If you're a real Walton's devotee, you might want to try Olivia's recipe - that whiskey frosting can only be an improvement, but you'll have to track down the Baldwin sisters for some moonshine.