I did not even plan to make an apple cake this weekend – weird, right? After all, autumn is apple time and therefore apple cake time. Well, luckily these apples found me. My go-to vegetable & fruit lady at the local market told me about these heirloom apples, an old cooking apple variety which is best for cakes and suddenly I was totally set on apple cake. I got a few Golden Nobles (Gelber Edelapfel), a variety that was found around 1800 in Norfolk and has been cultivated since 1820. It is an excellent cooking apple, very low in sugar and, according to Dr Wikipedia, suitable for diabetics. Above all it is beautiful in its yellow-pale green colour. Peel it as thinly as you can and discover why it is also called Wachsapfel (wax apple) since the skin comes off like a fine shaving of a candle and the pale yellow-green skin colour stays on the apple flesh.
Anyway, this noble apple demands a special cake, a traditional German gedeckte Apfeltorte which is covered apple torte where a magnificently juicy soft apple layer studded with raisins and almonds is encased in a soft (yes) shortcrust pastry and covered with a lemon-sugar glaze. It does not get any more German than this. Sourcing recipes, I found one in a cookbook from 1894 (I love old cookbooks) for a Hamburg apple torte that sounded like the one I was searching for and was about to start when my Mum rang – excellent timing. Naturally, I told her about the market, the apples and that I was about to embark on baking (we talk about food a lot) and she told me about this old family recipe that she had been given by my grandmother’s twin sister and swore that Tante Martha’s apple torte is the best apple cake ever. As I said, excellent timing. Danke, Mama!
The recipe arrived post-haste (well, email) and my Mum is right, it is the BEST apple cake EVER, the apple slices melded together into a soft apple layer, juicy but not runny, tart and sweet with plump raisins and little almond nuggets (I’ve added those since I love raisins and almonds in an apple cake, soak them in rum if you like a boozy note but of course water is fine, too), a well tempered hint of cinnamon (not too much). This fabulous apple filling is balanced by the soft & crumby pastry and finally, the sweet lemony glaze – serve with lashings of whipped cream after that first autumn walk in the forest. Best on Grandma’s china, if you’ve got some, for the true German experience. Continue reading