Although I was given an apple tree a couple of years ago it hasn’t exactly burst into fruit-bearing life yet. It produced a solitary apple last year and this year was on strike. I’m still hopeful for next year but in the meantime I am lucky that my friend Sara always has my best interests at heart when it comes to baking opportunities. She discovered a Bramley apple tree that no-one else was interested in and made sure to gather the windfalls when she could, so I had my own personal apple forager and delivery person for a while. After several crumbles I found myself thinking back to the other desserts we would have as kids. My mum would often put sponge on top of fruit instead of crumble, just to make a change, and we would have it hot with custard. By the time I eventually got round to making it I didn’t really have enough apples left but still wanted apple sponge: an upside-down apple sponge seemed like the perfect answer.
Bramleys are particularly good for this recipe because they essentially turn into a delicious purée when they are cooked. You may prefer your apples to hold their shape better and retain some “bite”, in which case you’ll need to use a dessert apple instead. Either way it’s delicious hot or cold. I used oil rather than butter to make a relatively liquid sponge mixture as otherwise it can be difficult to spread it over the apples without pulling them up. This also means it’s a dairy-free, quick method of making a sponge. I used a minimal amount of demerara sugar to create a slightly caramelly topping but you could use light brown sugar instead if your kitchen cupboards don’t contain twenty different types of sugar like mine seem to…
225g apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons demerara sugar
150g light olive oil
150g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
Juice of half a lemon
300g SR flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Set the oven to 175°C and line a tin approximately 11″ x 7″ with baking parchment.
Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the base of the tin and then place the sliced apple evenly on top:
Make the sponge:
Put the oil, sugar, honey, eggs and lemon juice into a large bowl and beat well to combine.
Sieve in the flour and cinnamon and fold in carefully.
Pour the sponge mixture gently over the apples and level gently, trying not to pull them up.
Bake for around 35-40 minutes, until the sponge is well risen and browned and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out dry of sponge mixture.
Allow to cool for a while in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Either eat hot or warm, or allow to cool and cut into slices.