We missed Simon and Noni's housewarming, but we invited ourselves over for tea soon afterwards when they adopted puppy Arnold. There was plenty of time in the morning to bake a welcome-to-your-own-neighbourhood cake. For the task I picked out Jenny's apple cake, actually shared by Jane in the lab farewell cookbook.
This cake has exactly the ingredient list you'd expect of a traditional apple cake, although the technique and proportions are a little skewed! There's no electric beater here, just a thick dough brought together in a saucepan, and barely enough of it to bind together the large quantity of apples. In her notes Jane assured me "the mixture is soft and breaks but it still works", and she was right. It's exactly the homely afternoon treat you'd imagine, sturdy enough to strap onto the back of a bike, and perfect with a cup of tea once it arrives at its destination.
Jenny's apple cake
(a recipe shared by Jane)
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice (I used ginger, cloves, cardamom)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat an oven to 180°C. Line a round springform cake tin with baking paper and spray it with oil.
Peel, core and coarsely dice the apples. Place them in a medium saucepan with a splash of water and the cloves and cook them over low-medium heat, stirring often, until the apples a just cooked through: they should have softened a little but still be holding their shape. Set aside to cool, and remove the cloves.
In another saucepan, melt the butter and then turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar, then the spices, then the egg. Finally, stir in the flour to form a dough. Scoop just over half of the dough into the cake tin and spread it evenly over the base. Turn all of the cooked apples into the cake tin and spread them out evenly. Dot the top of the cake with tablespoons of the remaining dough, filling in the gaps without being too fussy about it (see pic above).
Bake the cake for 40 minutes, and leave it in the tin for a further 30 minutes before serving.