If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m quite a fan of cakes and baking. One of my favourite writers is John Whaite, winner of the third Great British Bake Off. I loved his creations during the show and knew I’d want his book John Whaite Bakes as soon as it came out. It doesn’t disappoint – every recipe is beautiful and personal. You feel like John is talking to you over a cuppa, which is somewhat of a rarity.
I’ve had my eye on this recipe – which has the lovely name ‘Golden heart cake’ – for a while now, but simply hadn’t got round to making it. Standardly, I started without checking I had everything required and took my typical approach of modifying the recipe to suit what I did have (I left out the cranberries)!
I also didn’t attempt to make the caramel lattice to go on the top; I’m not a huge fan of that kind of caramel, and after bodging the first lot which goes in the bottom of the baking tin, I frankly ran of patience. Butterscotch / caramel sauce is definitely more my domain – and I think next time I make this cake, I’ll make a separate sauce to pour on.
The essential things you need for this cake are: a heart-shaped baking tin and patience when making the caramel sauce. Otherwise, it’s a pretty foolproof recipe with delicious results. If you’re a fan of apple cake, then I highly recommend this.
For the fruit and caramel
200g caster sugar plus 2 tbsp water for the caramel
3 apples, peeled – slice two and dice one
Zest of 1 orange – 1/3 (the rest goes in the sponge mix)
For the sponge mixture
170g salted butter, softened
170g golden caster sugar
170g self raising flour3 eggs – important that your eggs are at room temperature
1tsp good quality vanilla extract
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
Zest of 1 orange – 2/3 (see above!)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp lemon juice
1) Pre-heat your oven to 180 (mines a powerful fan oven so you may need to adjust accordingly!). Slice 2/3 of your apples and dice the rest to stir through your batter.
2) Make the caramel – a sugar thermometor might help you avoid a disaster! I think next time, I will stick to my normal tactic of scattering demerara sugar over the base of buttered tin before adding the slice fruit.
3) You could follow the recipe itself, or you could employ Mary Berry’s all-in-one approach which is what I did because I was in a rush. To do this, put all the ingredients bar the diced apple in a big mixing bowl and beat till combined using an electric hand mixer.
4) Pour the caramel into the buttered cake tin. Place the sliced apples on top, ensuring you cover the whole area (as you can see, I’m not the neatest at this!). Pour the batter over the top and pop in the oven.
5) Bake for 25-30 mins, check and cover if necessary with a piece of foil. Continue baking until a skewer or cake tester comes out clean. Leave to call in the tine for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve yourself a piece at once, if you like (I did, it’s delicious warm!) – it would be lovely with cream, ice cream etc. too.