It feels like I have been away from this little space of the internet for such a long time. Looking back its over a month since I last posted anything, I didn’t even go that long between posts when we were travelling last year!
Since moving back to Hong Kong, life has rather got in the way of blogging and baking and cakes. At the moment it seems an awful lot of time is spent working, and planning lessons, and saving money for the wedding fund. Monday, however, was a public holiday, and at last I had chance to sit down and write. On Sunday Hong Kong celebrated Mid-Autumn festival, my favourite of all all the Chinese festivals. A night for gazing at the moon when it is at is largest, and fullest in the sky. A night where families gather on the beach, and in the parks. Picnicing in the darkness, lit by the light of candle and glow sticks. Children run, giggling, waving around their coloured lanterns shaped like rabbits, stars and fish, pausing to nibble on chunks of yolk centred moon cakes. The atmosphere is light and festive. There’s an almost magical quality to the air.
Every year I write about autumn, and how much I miss the season. Today its 33 degrees, we have blue skies and its blazing hot and sunny. Every year I miss the turn of the season, that nip and crispness in the air that catches your throat when you leave the house in the morning. The leaves turning into a riot of spectacular orange-red colour. Pulling warmer clothes back out from cupboards, wrapping up in extra layers, cardigans, socks and scarves. The anticipation of evenings spent by log fires, wrapped under blankets, the promise of fireworks and chestnuts soon to come.
Mid-Autumn then, comes for me as conciliation for the lack of any real autumnal changes to the season. The night of lanterns and candle light serves as a replacement for the crackle and hiss of bonfires come November. The festive atmosphere marking the change in the season in a way the weather just doesn’t.
This is a lovely autumnal cake. Autumn is the time for indulging in plenty of apple pies and crumbles, and this apple and almond cake lends itself beautifully to that genre of pudding. The almonds lend a marzipan like taste to the cake, making me think of winter and Christmas just around the corner. The cake is gluten free, with almonds replacing flour in the batter. The almonds and the apple work together to give the cake a deliciously moist crumb, set off perfectly by the crunch of flaked almonds on top. A dust of icing sugar is all it needs to finish it off.
It’s perfect for the changing season as its lovely served both hot and cold. On warmer days it’s delicious sliced into a delicate sliver and eaten with a cup of tea. On colder days, when you find yourself wanted to spend the whole day wrapped up in blankets, serve it warm with lashings of creamy custard.
Recipe adapted, slightly, from BBC Food.
- 3 eating apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 300g caster sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 325g ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon almond essence
- 50g flaked almonds
- Icing sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ 375F. Grease and line a 25cm spring form cake tin.
- Put your chopped apples in a pan with half of the lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the caster sugar. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft enough to roughly mash with a fork. Give them a quick mash, but leave plenty of lumps, you’re looking for mashed apples with a bit of bite and chunk, rather than apple puree. Cool.
- Put the remaining caster sugar, eggs, ground almond, almond essence and about one tablespoon of lemon juice into a food processor and blend together. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Add the mashed apples and stir through until evenly combined.
- Pour into the prepared cake tin, and sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Keep a close eye on your cake as it bakes to ensure the flaked almonds don’t burn. If you feel like they are browning too quickly, cover the cake with grease-proof paper, or foil.
- Leave the cool for about 15 minutes, then carefully turn out of the tin.