I really love making things – I don’t want to imagine a life where I can’t be creative and brings to life with my own hands.
The beautiful thing about cooking and baking, in particular, is that you can create something that appeals to all the senses – sight, smell, touch and even sound if you count the “singing” of a cake as it cooks in the oven – then share it with those you care about.
Edible art, made with love. My Apple, Jam & Custard Cake is a feast for the senses and my colleagues at work declared it a PB – that is, a Personal Best!
This cake is implausibly light and fluffy. you really won’t believe it until you try it. The addition of a little custard powder (which is, essentially, cornflour with a little almond extract and yellow food colouring) lightens up the sponge in a way you can’t replicate with ordinary plain or self-raising wheat flours.
I love to add some real vanilla from a pod into the cake batter for extra sweet warmth too. I use custard powder in the buttercream filling in the middle layer for flavour – I love the sweet warmth of that almondy, vanilla scented powder.
You may have noticed how much I love it from all the recipes I have published which use it!
Once cooked and cooled, I split the two fluffy cloud-like cakes in two and fill the four thin layers with blackcurrant jam, custard buttercream and Bramley apple compote flavoured with a little cinnamon.
Bramleys are the king of cooking apples for their sharp, tartness and how fluffy they become once heat is applied – the cooled compote thickens but has enough structural integrity to not run all over the place.
Constructed this way, in four thin layers of sponge interspersed with distinct fillings, you have an ordinary 8-inch round cake which is big enough to feed a crowd.
I like piping the buttercream because it goes much further that way so it’s not overkill on the sweetness stakes, as well as it looking pretty.
But this single cake would feed a crowd for a celebration no problem (or 8 greedy family members 😉 ). Light and fluffy, warming from the vanilla and cinnamon, sharp from the apple and tart from the jam. A perfect autumnal treat of a cake, be it for pudding or afternoon tea.
Four layers of the lightest, fluffiest cake filled with blackcurrant jam, custard powder buttercream and cinnamon apple compote. Perfect as pudding in autumn or slice thinly for an afternoon treat 😉 Serves a minimum of 8 generously
- 200 g soft butter
- 200 g caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla paste/seeds from a vanilla bean
- 3 large eggs
- 225 g plain flour
- 2 rounded tsp baking powder
- 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 25 g custard powder
- 200 g buttermilk (yes I weigh it)
- 1 very large Bramley apple
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamom (or one stick of cinnamon)
- 125 g soft butter
- 250 g icing sugar
- 1 heaped tbsp custard powder
- 4 heaped tbsp blackcurrant jam or conserve
Grease and line two 8-inch round sandwich tins. Set the oven to 170˚C for conventional ovens, 10-20˚C lower for fan assisted ovens.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until very light and fluffy then beat the eggs in one at a time.
Sift the flour, raising agents and custard powder over the creamed mixture and fold in stopping just before the flour is completely folded and adding in the buttermilk.
Divide between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins until well risen and browned. It should spring back when pressed in the middle and a skewer comes out clean. Note because of the custard powder, this cake browns faster and more than an ordinary Victoria sponge cake. Cool on a rack for 10 mins before turning out of the tins to finish cooling.
Beat the butter, icing sugar and custard powder together until light and smooth then dribble in a little recently boiled water to soften the frosting further. Add it 1 tsp at a time - about 1 tbsp is usually just right.
If liked, pop it in a piping bag with a star tip like a Wilton 1M or 2D and put to the side until the cakes are cold.
Peel and chop the apple into small dice then put in a saucepan which has a lid with the sugar, cinnamon and a splash of water. Cook over medium-high heat with the lid on for 5 minutes then take the lid off and stir well. Either continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the compote is completely smooth or if liked, leave it like this with a few small chunks remaining for texture.
Transfer to a shallow dish to cool. Leave it uncovered to allow for excess moisture to evaporate away.
Use a serrated bread knife to split the cold cakes into two thinner layers. Or use a cake leveller if you have one.
Place one cake on the serving plate then spread the jam on top of it. Place another cake on top. Pipe out rosettes of frosting if using a piping bag, if not, use a palette knife to spread it in a thin layer.
Top with another of the cake layers then spoon on the apple compote. Top with the final cake layer and if you have some frosting left in a piping bag, pipe little rosettes around the outside.
- You really do need Bramley apples to get the light and fluffy compote they produce. If you can't get them, use as fluffy an apple variety as you can and be prepared to cook it for longer to get it soft enough.
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