This week Chef Gerald has got some very exciting news to share with you: he has come one step closer to realising his dream of becoming a celebrity chef. Lisa from The Lunchbox Project has a kindly accepted his submission and has featured a lovely drawing inspired by Chef Gerald’s Orange and Walnut Tart on her blog. Many thanks, Lisa – Chef Gerald has been a great fan of all your delightful drawings ever since we discovered your site, but of course he thinks the one based on his tart is the prettiest 🙂 Lisa’s rendition of the Bistro Gerard Orange and Walnut Tart can be viewed here.
Today’s recipe tries to replicate one of Mummy’s favourite cakes from her childhood. Humans, I’m told, have got funny ways of relating to their food, with certain flavours bringing back pleasant memories from an idyllic (or perhaps idealised?) past. Baby parrots, on the other hand, prefer to only live in the moment and, instead of trying to re-create some nearly forgotten culinary masterpiece, are always content with whatever they can forage out of the fruit bowl or the fridge.
Anyway, back to our caramelised apple cake. From what Mummy told me and Daddy, this is something that her father often used to bake and it was a family favourite. So last week, Mummy and I set out to re-create this based on nothing else but Mummy’s memory and a few recipes for similar desserts. The result, unfortunately, was far from memorable, and not worth wasting precious cyberspace talking about it. The main problem with most commonly displayed upside down apple cakes recipes is that they do not use sufficient fruit, and the base of the cake is usually not moist enough. Which is exactly what happened to us, much to Daddy and Chef Gerald’s disappointment, as it severely interfered with their Saturday afternoon cake-sharing routine.
Mummy, however, was determined to redeem this cake as one worthy of entering the Bistro Gerard collection, so this week we decided to try again, this time letting ourselves be guided more by memory rather than by printed recipes. From what Mummy could remember, the base was supposed to be quite a light sponge, topped up with lots of caramelised apples, whose lovely juices would seep into the cake.
This is what we did this time around and the result was much more satisfying:
For the caramelised apples:
6 – 7 apples of your choice (we used a mix of granny smith and Fuji), peeled, coded and quartered
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
For the cake base:
4 eggs, separated
3 tbs sugar
4 tbs whole wheat flour
4 tbsp olive oil
80 g ground almonds (or almond meal if you have some handy)
grated zest of one lemon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
Start by making the caramel. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 20 cm round dish (it’s best not to use a spring form tin for this cake, as the caramel may seep out), then spread the sugar even over the base and top wi the cubes butter. Place in the heated oven and leave for about 10 minutes, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Remove the dish from the oven, and arrange the quartered apples over the caramel, ensuring the base of the tin is covered as tightly as possible. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the apples and return to the oven. Bake for approximately 25 – 30 minutes, until the apples have softened.
In the mean time, prepare the cake base.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla essence until pale and creamy. Add 1 tbsp of oil at a time, mixing well after each addition, until you have incorporated all the oil.
Mix in the ground almonds.
In a different bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites and flour into the yolk mixture. The batter will be quite light and airy.
Remove the tin from the oven, pour the batter over the apples, return to the oven and continue to bake for a further 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. When performing the skewer test, ensure to only test the cake base – there will be some moisture on the bottom of the pan due to the apples.
Let it rest in the tin for approximately 10 minutes, the run a knife around the edge of the cake to dislodge it from the sides of the tin, and invert onto a plate.