I remember filming last night’s episode of the Great Irish Bake Off best out of all the episodes I was in. So much went on in it. We had one baker loose it a little, 2 bakers leave and a very tight technical challenge between me and my buddy Will for first place. Although I pipped him to the post in the technical taking first place, overall Will outshone us all with his showstopper desserts to take the title of ‘Star Baker’ this week!
This post, however, is about the technical challenge- Biddy’s apple cider cake. Don’t be fooled by the simple and some would say rustic, look to this cake-it really delivers on all fronts. The use of the apple cider and the orchard syrup in this cake along with the fresh apple slices really get amplified during the baking process. I remember trying a bit of the batter before baking in the tent and thinking it wasn’t going to be anything special. I was wrong.
Cinnamon is usually paired with apples but here Biddy uses nutmeg. This beautiful little spice is one of my favourites, even more so around this time of year. You always see Pumpkin flavoured products lining the shelves of the cafes, supermarkets and coffee houses from towards the end of September onwards so I take full advantage of it (did someone say Pumpkin spiced Brioche?). In this recipe it introduces that slight hint of warmth to the cake and really makes the difference.
Keeping this one moist is difficult as the fresh apples will release their juices during the baking. Some people will actually overbake this cake quite easily as a skewer that isn’t inserted far enough will come out moist every time…well until your apples have no moisture left at all, a.k.a. burnt!
My recipe below varies slightly from the custard we used on the show.
You will need:
110g caster gugar
110g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
225g self-raising flour
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
175ml sweet, dry cider
25ml orchard syrup
2 large eating apples, sliced
1-2 tbsp caster or icing sugar to finish
½ tsp vanilla or ¼ vanilla pod, seeds removed
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 egg yolks
3-4 tbsp Elderflower cordial
How to do it:
- Line a 23cm/9inch square cake tin with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan.
- Cream the soft butter and sugar together until light and pale. In a separate bowl sift together the bicarb, flour, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture one at a time until well mixed, adding a tbsp of flour before the last egg.
- Sift in half of the flour and fold in gently to combine.
Add all of the cider and orchard syrup and mix in. The batter will look like it has curdled, but don’t worry it’s just the carbonation from the cider reacting with the bicarb.
Mix in the rest of the flour until you have a smooth even mixture. Pour into the prepared tin and tap a few times to knock out any large air bubbles.
- Slice your apples into wedges. Make sure they are even in size by trimming the edges of them and make sure they aren’t too thin otherwise they will burn.
Arrange on the cake in 3-4 lines depending on how big your slices are. I like to arrange mine facing in different directions for alternate rows. I think it looks more aesthetically pleasing but do it how you wish.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the cake has shrunk away from the side of the tin slightly. Cool on a wire rack in the tin for a few minutes then remove from the tin to cool completely.
When the cake is still a bit hot sprinkle over the sugar.
- For the custard; place the milk and vanilla in a pan over a medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Meanwhile place the sugar and egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk until pale and very thick. When the milk is ready treacle ¼ of it over the egg mix whilst stirring to temper the eggs. Pour this back into the pan and place over the heat stirring with a wooden spoon (not a whisk!) until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the pan and add your elderflower cordial remembering the more you add the stronger the taste.
There you have it-Biddy’s Cider cake with elderflower custard. Technically this wasn’t very challenging and I think that the main test here was to get the custard right. This actually proved rather difficult for most of us! It was either scrambled, liquid or foamy custard in the end I don’t think anyone got it 100% right.
Once again I’ll have to say congratulations to Will for getting star baker this week. Fully deserved it on that bread alone! I just regret not eating more of it now… I also must say a big well done to both Bridget and Steve who fought hard throughout the competition, produced some fantastic baked goods and became great friends of mine. Let me tell you folks, since the bake off I have been to Bridget’s many times and she has baked me some fantastic dishes (sourdough pizza is a notable one!).
All recipes from the show are available here. Next week is back to the signature and technical challenge under the theme of ‘chocolate’. Do not miss it!
Thanks for reading,
- 7 Ways To Use Apple Cider in Your Sweets (sweets.seriouseats.com)
- Video Recipe: Apple Cider Cupcakes (makingitwithdanielle.com)
- Baked Apple Cider Cake Donuts (whitneykristine.wordpress.com)
- Mini Lemon And Elderflower Loaves (designerfoodie.com)