Stephanie and Louise were born 7 weeks early, so I had not 1, but 2 premature babies. They were healthy little things so unbelievably came home with me on day 6. They were born before their sucking reflex so feeding was a bit tricky. My mum came for the first 4 weeks, then I had a nursery nurse for the next 4, but then I was on my own. I had no family nearby and no help at home. Also, 26 years ago, Mark was building his career and was often gone for long stretches of time. I am not having a whinge. I am merely setting the scene for my story.
Our dear friends Janis and Derek lived in London at that time and hadn’t yet had their children. When Mark had to go away, they would move in even though they had busy jobs to go to each day. I seriously don’t know how I would have managed without them.
Janis and Derek with their 2 children recently spent a few days with us in London and while making this cake together, Janis recounted a story, much of which I don’t remember.
She says in the middle of the day, when Stephanie and Louise would have been about 3 months old, I called her at work and in a very dead pan voice said “you better come.” In those days £20 was a lot of money to us all, but she took a black cab and arrived at my front door. Apparently I let her in, said nothing and just walked like a zombie up the stairs and fell into bed. She bundled up my babies and took them out, in the rain, and walked and walked for 2 hours, until feeding could no longer be denied and she had to come back. I had had a very deep 2 hour sleep and was able to function again.
“DAT IS FREN’!!!” (said in true West Indian accent)
The original inspiration for this cake came from Ottolenghi but I have changed bits and pieces. Its not the most Temple friendly recipe, but I have now made it 3 times in the last month. The GI is high as is the calorie content and although the cake is made with olive oil, the icing is jammed packed with naughty fat. The first time was with Janis, the second to bring over to Stephanie’s for tea and the third was for my reading group ladies who enjoy a bit of decadence with their dessert. I only used the icing the third time as although it is lovely, it is really not critical to the enjoyment of this cake as it is so moist and full of fruit.
This “healthy” cake recipe – Serves 8 to 10 people!
80g (3 oz) sultanas
4 tbsp water
280g (10 oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
120ml (4.5 oz) olive oil
160g (5.5 oz) white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large tart unpeeled apples cut into 1 cm dices
grated zest of 1 lime/lemon
200ml (7 oz) double cream (whipping cream)
340g (12 oz) cream cheese
100g (3.5 oz) sugar
85ml (3 oz) maple syrup
- Prepare a 20 cm springform pan using your best technique. I use reusable teflon pre-cut liners which you can just make out in a photo below.
- Place sultanas and water in saucepan and gently simmer until all the water is gone.
- Pre-heat oven to 170ºC (340ºF)
- Sift together dry ingredients
- Separate 2 of the eggs, and whisk the whites until soft peak stage. Save the yolks.
- Whisk together the oil, sugar and vanilla then add the other 2 eggs plus the yolks from before.
- Mix in the diced apples and the sultanas with the lemon/lime zest.
- Gently fold in the dry ingredients
- Very gently fold in the whisked egg whites
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour or until the inserted skewer comes out clean. Err on the side of caution and try not to overcook this beauty.
- The icing comes together very simply by whisking all its ingredients until smooth and thick.
- Lavish on the top, or for the more daring, cut the cake horizontally across the middle and spread the joy between the middle and top.