Friday, September 15, 2023


When I was a child, one of my favourite snacks was a grated apple, sprinkled with vanilla sugar, ground cinnamon, and plenty of raisins. I adored that treat, especially if it was left to stand for a little while, so the raisins started to absorb the apple juice and become tender. And that flavour combination has remained one of my dearest ones.
Apples are indeed a dessert classic, whether used in the form of the humble apple sauce or to make beautiful rose decorations, they are dear and wonderful in every way. However, other than apple sauce, they are fantastic when added simply grated to a cake batter.
Days are getting shorter, and few things are as indulging as enjoying an early evening with a slice of homemade cake and a cup of tea. And this little cake is one of my late summer and early autumn staples, full of apples, spices, and toasted walnuts. Supremely soft, and glazed in dark chocolate, it is divine with coffee or tea.

For the cake
100 grams plain flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
100 grams toasted walnuts, ground
120 grams grated apple, about one medium apple
100 grams light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
240 millilitres tepid water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the syrup
100 millilitres water
80 grams granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the glaze
150 grams dark chocolate (75%)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Grate a the apple directly into the mixing bowl, so all the juice is saved, add in the sugar, salt, vinegar, and the vanilla, and mix very well. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and baking soda, add in the ground walnuts, and mix briefly. Finally, pour in the water, and mix until just combined. Prepare a square baking tin (20x20 cm) by lining it with baking parchment, transfer the batter, and bake immediately, in a nicely preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 20-25 minutes. The cake should spring back when lightly touched, and a toothpick inserted into the very centre should come out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the vanilla syrup. Place the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in the water and the vanilla, and place it over high heat. Bring to a boil, and let it cook for 3 minutes, so the sugar dissolves nicely and the syrup becomes slightly thickened.
Remove it from the heat and reserve. Remove the baked cake from the oven, quickly poke it with a skewer or a toothpick, and immediately start pouring the hot syrup over the hot cake, spoonful by spoonful, until all of the syrup is used up. Move the pan carefully so the syrup is evenly distributed. Let the cake cool down to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Just before serving, melt together the dark chocolate and the vegetable oil, either over a double boiler or in the microwave, and let it cool down slightly. Slice the cake into individual servings, and glaze each of them generously. Sprinkle with additional walnuts, if desired, and serve with strong coffee. Yields 9 large servings.