Being gifted a sackful of Bramley apples from Hungry Hubby’s lucky work colleagues who have Bramley trees in their garden, meant I had to get baking to thank them for these beautiful fruits. They are a bit nobbly but beautiful with their rustic charm, and I have never seen these rosy red and green varieties before. It was a delight to not have lurid green ones coated in wax to supposedly enhance their visual appeal from the supermarket. Along with Golden Syrup, I do believe Bramleys are one of Britain’s greatest triumphs. If you have never baked with them, then you simply must!
This traybake was something I came up with several years ago but it’s evolved over time to what we have today. Traybakes are brilliant for taking to a party, a bake sale or serving still warm with a healthy glug of custard. They are much easier to serve than toweringly tall layer cakes when you’re not having it at a sit-down event – indeed, a chunk of this cake is perfectly portable as a grab and go snack. I love the tins which come with a lid so you can click it on, and go! My colleagues never complain when I wander into work with a pile of paperwork under one arm and this tin under the other lol.
Chopped walnuts are folded into the cake batter both for texture and for the earthy, mildly bitter taste they have. A generous layer of chopped apples which have been coated in a small amount of brown sugar and my favourite spice – warming, exotic ground cinnamon – and it bakes into a fluffy, fruit cloud-like layer but of course, we need some buttery crumble studded with fudge to finish it off. Everything is better with a little crumble sprinkled on top!
I like how those little nuggets of fudge melt a touch on baking and lend a little extra creamy, sweetness to the otherwise tart apples. You could though, toss them onto the finished bake as it comes out of the oven if you want them to keep a little more of their fudgy structure. This is homely little bake has a rustic, farmhouse style to it and is a complete sweet treat in and of itself. But served warm with a jug of custard on the side, you would have a perfect warming pudding for chilly autumn days to come.
- 200 g soft butter
- 200 g light muscovado sugar
- 300 g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarb level
- 2 tbsp milk room temp
- 100 g walnuts reasonably finely chopped
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large Bramley apples
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
- 25 g cold butter cubed
- 50 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar
- 100 g fudge broken into little nuggets
Line a 8x12 inch tray bake tin with baking parchment or foil.
Prepare the crumble layer first by rubbing the butter into the flour, stirring in the sugar and popping in the fridge to keep cold as you make the cake.
Beat the butter and sugar together until very light and then beat in the eggs one at a time, using a spoonful of flour if needed to prevent curdling.
Sift over the remaining flour and raising agents and fold into the creamed butter and eggs. Stir in the milk to loosen the batter a little. Stir through the nuts and scrape into your prepared traybake tin - it will be stiff and look a mean amount but it does puff beautifully with all those eggs and raising agents.
Prepare your apples and pop the oven on to preheat at 180˚C.
Peel your apples, core them then chop into 1 cm sized cubes (roughly) and place in a large bowl - toss with the cinnamon and sugar for the apple layer and then tumble over the cake batter layer.
Sprinkle over the prepared crumble, stud with the fudge and bake for approx 45 minutes until very well risen, browned and a skewer in the centre of the bake doesn't have too many crumbs stuck it.
Cool for 15 minutes in the tin before slicing and serving.
Be careful with substituting the apples. Bramleys are very tart and cook into a fluffy cloud when made into a sauce or puree - in a cake, they will suck moisture out of the batter so if you use a variety which doesn't cook down in the same way, the apples may give up too much liquid. Or not yield into soft little chunks of loveliness!
It's normally necessary to coat the apples in lemon juice as you work to prevent oxidation and discolouration. As you are coating them with brown sugar and ground cinnamon there is no need here!