What I’ve been searching for: Sticky spiked double apple cake

I’ve been searching for this cake for over a year. I can pinpoint when the quest started. One day my coworker Lottie brought in a cake baked by a friend of hers. It was an apple cake. I think it was wrapped in brown paper. Tall, moist and chewy, deeply fruity, slightly spicy and a little bit sticky – it left a serious impression on my tastebuds. I knew I wanted to bake a cake like that.

But that cake remained elusive. Other, similar cakes kept taunting me – a pear and cardamom cake in our local gourmet food shop, a sticky plum cake on a blog. Yet I didn’t know how to recreate these marvels at home. I almost gave up entirely, resigning myself to the fact that I would never bake a cake quite like that one.

You can find more recipes at barbara-luijckx.com

Turns out, the cake I was looking for was right under my nose the whole time. I’ve talked many times before about In the Sweet Kitchen, a terrific cookbook and baking resource that I consider “my baking bible”. Flipping through one day for inspiration, I thought her Sticky Spiked Double Apple Cake sounded an awful lot like that cake, the one I was looking for.

And it was. Oh, it was. This cake is all the adjectives I used in my first paragraph above. Sticky apple cake, I love you. Now that I’ve found you, I am never letting you go.

Sticky Spiked Double Apple Cake
Adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup dried apple slices (or rings, cut in half)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 medium tart cooking apples, one peeled, one unpeeled, both cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the brandy for 45 minutes. Add the dried apple slices and macerate for a further 15 minutes. Do not drain!

Preheat the oven to 325F / 160C. Butter and flour a 9 or 10 inch round springform pan.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, blend both sugars. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until thickened and pale, about 2 minutes with a machine or 4 to 5 minutes by hand. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to blend. With the mixer on low, mix in the dry ingredients in two additions, combining the batter just enough to moisten most but not all of the flour. Turn off the mixer and add the dried fruit and brandy mixture, chopped nuts, and chopped fresh apple, then, by hand, fold them into the batter with long, deep strokes.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the centre of the oven for between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1 hour and 30 minutes (this will depend partly on your pan – a cake baked in a 9 inch pan will take slightly longer). When done, a tester inserted into the centre will come out clean, the middle of the cake will be firm to the touch and the sides of the cake will just be starting to pull away from the pan.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool before unmoulding from the the springform pan. This cake will keep for several days, wrapped at room temperature.