It might look a lot like focaccia but this is actually a cake. And a delicious one at that. It’s from a recipe I found in Lily Vanilli’s “Sweet Tooth”, a book my kids gave to my mum as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and she has lent to me. There are plenty of recipes in there that I want to try and as my parents were staying the night with us on their way home from their New Zealand trip it seemed like a great opportunity to make something from the book to welcome them back home. This is a lovely seasonal recipe that manages to combine apples and rosemary in cake form and we ate it with a cup of coffee on a wintry afternoon. I think it would also make a great dessert served warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream.
After I had made the cake I found a large rosemary bush in my garden, having spent the last few months buying it from the supermarket. Gardening is not one of my strong points although I often wish it were: I have a lot of gardening books but do very little gardening. My pots are looking horribly neglected and really all I have done since I moved in last summer is to cut the grass, which was a first for me. I’m hoping that when the weather starts to improve I will be more enthusiastic with the borders as I really can’t depend on my parents to do six months’ worth of gardening every time they come to visit… I already have loads of snowdrops, some crocuses and some little yellow flowers that I don’t recognise. Daffodils are starting to come up and I can’t wait to see if there are other spring flowers hidden away, biding their time.
But back to the cake. This recipe will give you a shallow cake that will disappear very quickly: next time I make it I may try doubling up the quantities and adjusting the baking time accordingly. You could also bake it in a smaller tin to make it deeper: just make sure it is baked all the way through.
85g dark brown sugar, plus some for sprinkling
1½ tablespoons olive oil
240g peeled, cored and diced Bramley cooking apples
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
190g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
A few slices of Bramley apple
Rosemary sprigs to decorate
Set the oven to 180ºC and grease and line a 9″ loose-based cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time and then add the oil.
Mix in the diced apple and chopped rosemary.
Sieve in the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon and fold in.
Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level gently.
Sprinkle a small amount of dark brown sugar over the top of the cake and arrange a few slices of apple on top.
Dip the rosemary sprigs into cold water and then dust with brown sugar. Lay on top of the cake.
Bake for around 30-35 minutes, until the cake is firm in the centre and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.