[A cider and apple cake, not unlike a tatin tart]
There was a night made of champagne, flickering candles, crisps and smoked salmon sandwiches, the last of the foie gras smothered onto big fat chunky pieces of baguette, an endless game of trivial pursuit where – as it turned out – the one person who refused to play (my father, apparently stuck to his mots croisés) became the one who knew all the answers, our joker – as we called him.
Yes, there was no electricity in the house after a storm hit the lines, somewhere around Marseille. But we had us. And a dark Christmas tree. And some apple cake.
Something I’d thrown together with things we had.
Too-much-butter, as my mum always buys when she knows I’m coming.
A lot of sugar.
A touch of honey from this beekeeper my grand-mother became very fond of.
And winter apples from M. Riouet’s orchard. And really, I say orchard when it really is just a couple of trees, but I can’t help it, his potager is the enchanted forest I grew up in.
This cake was meant to be nothing but rustic. A mere snack after a day spent with Bruno and his goats in the mountains.
And yet, that night, it turned into something special. Here is to power cuts! And to the new year too!
Gâteau aux pommes et au cidre, un peu comme une tarte tatin
While I wouldn’t necessarily force you to have this cake as a dessert, I must say it makes a pretty decent contender. Especially with a scoop of yoghurt ice-cream or a generous dollop of crème fraiche.
But the way I see it is much more homely. The kind of cakes that’s eaten still warm from the oven, with fingers and a side made of tea in a pot. I think a light infusion of tilleul would do wonders here.
It’s really quite simple to make. Slice three apples thinly, a knife and your hand are enough, but you can go with the mandolin too, although I didn’t. Layer them at the bottom of your tin and drizzle with honey. Top with the batter and bake. Oh, and eat too!
Gâteau aux pommes et au cidre
6 apples, peeled and cored
100 g runny honey
180 g butter
300 g demerara sugar
245 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp maldon sea salt
180 g apple cider (or apple juice)
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 180°C.
Butter a 24cm cake tin, line with baking paper and set aside.
Thinly slice 3 apples and layer at the bottom of the prepared tin. Drizzle with honey and pack tightly with your hands.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
In the meantime, chop the remaining apples into 2cm chunks.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Then, alternatively add the dry ingredients and cider to the butter mixture in three times, starting with the flour.
Finish the batter by gently folding in the apple chunks.
Pour onto the sliced apples and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then invert onto a plate and peel off the baking paper.