Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Gift: Rum, Raisins & Apple Cake

 Each year our next door neighbour makes us some sort of Christmas dessert as a Christmas present and usually we return in kind with a box of chocolates, fresh veg or some honey. This year though, chocolates seem boring, fresh organic veg is inaccessible to us, and honey is old news. And most of all, I felt like BAKING SOMETHING. 

There is a lot to be said for baking as a method of stress relief. As someone who has struggled with their relationship with food over the years, baking has, paradoxically, helped me overcome some of the issues I face. For starters, it makes me feel relaxed. I may freak out every couple of minutes because I've put an egg in where I wasn't supposed to or have spilled half the batter on the bench in the process of pouring it into the cake tin, but overall it is a calming experience. The measuring, the stirring, the churning, the pouring, the poking. I never liked lab work at school but that's what it reminds me of - high school science labs. Science has a basis and it makes sense, it's the same for cooking. I also enjoy the feeling you get when you have finished cooking: the cake is out of the oven so it's time to put your feet up ad relax. It is yet another paradox that standing is more tiring than walking, and an hour or two in the kitchen most certainly reminds you of that. 

Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying that I like baking. Which indeed I do! I relish the chance to try something new in the cake or biscuit department (despite my habit of going back to old favourites time and time again). Originally I was planning on giving our neighbours a cappuccino cake but due to unforseen events (see next post) had to initiate plan B. Due to this recipe being one that Dad found, I wasn't going to just give it to someone without having tried it myself first. If any of you know my father, you'll know that he isn't the greatest in the kitchen and doesn't quite understand the detail of how the food preparation process works. Thankfully though, this recipe seemed decent in theory and put into practice... my oh my, wasn't it just brilliant. 

Not only will this now be my go-to apple cake recipe, it is most certainly fit for giving to neighbours as a Christmas present. :-) 

Wholemeal Apple and Rum Cake (adapted from Kate's Apple Cake)
Serves 12

60ml dark rum
120g mixed raisin, sultana and currants

2 cups wholemeal flour
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spice

1 brown sugar
½ cup raw sugar
1 cup light olive oil or rice bran oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

3 large Granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced 1.5cm
100g toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped


1. Place raisins, sultanas and currants in a bowl with the rum and leave to soak for at least 3 hours at room temperature. 
2. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 26cm round spring form tin with baking paper.
3. Place flour, bicarb, salt and mixed spice into a large bowl and mix together with a whisk.
4. Using electric beaters, beat the oil, sugars and vanilla essence together until thick and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one is added.
5. Use a spoon to stir the flour mixture into the oil and sugar mixture until combined (the batter will be very thick) 
6. Stir in the fruits and walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared tin and flatten the surface.
7. Bake for 75-85 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
8. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove from the tin and serve warm.

- Matilda

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