I'm sure this recipe must exist somewhere in a cook book, but as far as I'm concerned, my mum and I came up with it one Saturday afternoon about 15 years ago, when presented with a bounty of apples and a very picky eater (my father) who claimed he had enough of traditional apple recipes. —Seasin
For the apples
medium Granny Smith apples
fresh orange or lemon juice
chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts)
For the sponge cake
large free range eggs (color of yolk important), separated
white cake flour
In This Recipe
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius; peel and core the apples, leaving them whole.
In a 24 cm (9 in) oven-proof casserole dish (you can use any very deep round baking dish; you can figure out how deep it needs to be, if you place one apple in it-you then need at least 10 cm of extra space on top of it. I'm using a 9 inch Le Creusot casserole dish) place the 6 spoons of brown sugar; add the orange/lemon juice and melt gently until it starts to caramelise. Once it's golden brown and bubbling, gently tilt the casserole around, coating the walls about half-way up with the caramel. Remove from heat, leaving it to harden slightly
Place the apples on the bottom of the casserole dish, sprinkle them with the cinnamon, then add a teaspoon of blackberry preserve (naturally you can use any berries you have on hand) in the little cavity of each apple, and top with some roughly chopped nuts. Put to the side while you make the cake batter
Place the egg yolks and the sugar, together with a pinch of salt, in a large non-reactive bowl. With a handheld mixer, start beating them up on medium-high for a LONG time (about 15-20 minutes), until they've whitened and almost trippled in volume. Add the water and the vanilla and give it another minute with the mixer. In a small bowl, sieve the flour and mix in the baking powder. Separately (I do this in a food processor while I'm whipping the egg yolks/sugar mixture) beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. When they're done, you can start assembling the batter; gently fold into the egg yolks mixture, one tablespoon of flour and two of egg white, alternating between them.
Gently pour the batter over the apples in the casserole, making sure you cover evenly. Place in the middle of the oven. Ideally, you should place a small pot of water on the bottom of the oven-this will result in a fluffier cake. Bake for 40 minutes and DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN mid-way. the cake will colapse if you do. After 35 minutes, test with a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake-if it comes out clean, no batter sticking to it, it's done. The cake will separate from the sides of the dish slightly-that's normal. if it's baked, turn off the oven but leave the cake in for an additional ten minutes.
After ten minutes, remove from the oven and cover the dish with a cake stand/platter. Flip over to remove the cake from the oven dish.I serve this cake warm, with freshly whipped cream. It also works with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.