I realised there was not a single recipe here for apples! Plenty of apricot, plum and fig recipes – because they’re fruit trees I have, and which I love getting creative with every year. There’s also a bit of citrus (particularly lime!) going on. We don’t have an apple tree, but I do love apples … of course. Apple tarte tatin is about the best dessert going if you ask me, and I also love an old-fashioned apple and cinnamon tea cake – yes, the kind you might have made in high school. I’ve been tweaking a recipe for a few years (primarily spiking my cake with ungodly amounts of brandy; all warm and spicy in the mouth). But here is another apple thing I love. A very simple and yet elegant apple and lime ‘cake’.
Really it’s just lots of finely sliced apple layered up with plenty of lime zest (right now is peak season for apples and limes). The ‘cake’ is gently baked, then pressed overnight in the fridge. The next day it’s rendered so cool and refreshing, and it slices beautifully – perfect with a dollop of whipped cream. Totally amazing with a cup of Turkish black coffee spiked with cardamom, or with a good cup of tea.
The recipe is adapted from one by Greg and Lucy Malouf in their book Moorish. Their ‘Moroccan green apple and lime cake’ was inspired by something served to them at a villa on the outskirts of Marrakesh (oh, to go there one day). It spiked my interest years back – the combination of apple and lime, and also the clever fact that there is no actual ‘cake’ involved. I once made it for a good friend’s birthday and it went down so well.
I’ve made some changes – such as I’ve found you can actually make it with any apples (or a mixture); that it barely needs any sugar (I think just 2 tablespoons in the whole cake); and I don’t feel it needs butter, which the Maloufs’ recipe had (because texture wise, lumps of cold butter are not lovely to eat). I think you should make it – it’s so delicious!
By all means increase this recipe if you have lots of mouths to feed/an abundance of apples to use. I’d just suggest using a wider cake tin rather than a higher cake, so the cake remains a similar (low) height.
7 large apples of any variety (or the equivalent small apples)
grated zest of 3 limes
2 tablespoons sugar
Butter a 20 cm cake tin and line the base with a circle of baking paper.
Peel the apples and core with an apple corer. Preheat your oven to 160°C (325°F).
Finely slice the apples with a mandoline or with the wide blades of a box grater. Carefully arrange your prettiest whole rings over the base of the tin (the bottom will become the top of the cake). Once you’ve got rings covering the base, add more apple (in no particular arrangement) until you’ve used about a quarter of the sliced apple. Sprinkle with ½ tablespoon of sugar and a quarter of the lime zest. Continue to add another layer of apple, sugar and zest – using a quarter of each at a time – until you have used them all up. Use a spoon to press the apple layers down gently and make sure there are no slices sticking up. Cover with foil (or an upturned pizza tray to be more environmentally friendly) and place the cake tin inside a baking dish. Add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the tin. Bake for 1 hour.
Leave the cake to cool to room temperature, then cover the surface with baking paper and a small flat-bottomed plate or dish that will fit inside the tin. Put something heavy from the fridge on top, to compress the cake, and chill overnight.
Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Place a serving plate upside down on top of the tin. Carefully flip the cake and plate over. Remove the tin (and baking paper). Serve with whipped cream.