Greatest Recipes Ever: Apple Dessert Cake

Thomasina Miers recommends Mary Berry’s apple dessert cake as one of her greatest recipes ever.

‘I’m addicted to apples, and this time of year is bliss. Our neighbour in London has a tree of sweet, pink ones, and when these are exhausted, we make trips to the farmer’s market to stock up. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our streets were lined with apple and pear trees instead of ones that were merely decorative? It’s hard to believe I used to dislike cooked apples-my father would shake his head as I spurned his apple crumble. It wasn’t until I went round to my friend Jo’s house after school one day that I saw the light. Her mother cooked this Mary Berry cake, and we demolished it warm from the oven. It’s hugely comforting, with a tantalising hint of almonds. I think it’s the perfect weekend cake’

Wonderful apple dessert cake (serves 6)
Extract from Mary Berry’s New Aga Cookbook (published by Headline)

I’ve been doing this special and remarkably easy recipe for years. Many people have asked me how to cook it in the Aga, so here we go. The apples can be windfalls or even shrivelled ones left in the fruit bowl. Serve with ice cream or crème fraîche as a dessert, or with coffee in the morning as one would a Danish pastry-again warm, dusted with icing sugar.

225g (8oz) self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
225g (8oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon almond extract
150g (5oz) butter, melted
350g (12oz) cooking apples, peeled and cored
25g (1oz) flaked almonds

Method (Aga)
Lightly grease a deep 20cm (8in), loose-bottomed cake tin. Measure the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, almond extract and melted butter into a bowl, mix well until blended, then beat for a minute. Spread half this mixture into the tin.

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Thickly slice the apples and lay on top of the mixture in the tin, piling mostly towards the centre. Using two dessertspoons, roughly spoon the remaining mixture over the apples. This is an awkward thing to do, but just make sure that the mixture covers the centre well as it will spread out in the oven. Sprinkle the cake with the flaked almonds.

With the grid shelf on the floor of the Roasting Oven and the cold plain shelf on the second set of runners, cook the cake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden brown, watching it carefully. Transfer the plain shelf (which is very hot) to the middle of the Simmering Oven and then lift the cake very carefully onto this and bake for a further 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.

To prepare ahead
Best made to serve warm, but can be made the day before

To freeze
Once cooked and cold, wrap and freeze. Use within three months

To thaw
Thaw for six hours if time allows

To cook in a conventional oven
Cook the cake in the oven preheated to 160˚C/325˚F/Gas 3 for 1½ hours until golden and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.