Every now and then, you buy a bag of apples that smell so … appley. The kind of smell where if you close your eyes and breathe deeply, you can almost imagine yourself transported to the middle of an apple orchard on a crisp, sunny autumn day. This weekend, you can do just that at the first Apple and Craft Cider Festival, taking place in Co. Tipperary at Con Traas’s Apple Farm.
Artisan Irish cider is gaining ground too, with last weekend’s cover story in the Sunday Business Post Magazine all about Irish cider calling it ‘a purely national drink cultivated from our most under-appreciated resource: our orchards’.
Whether or not you get down to Tipperary to celebrate, all the recent talk of apples and cider seemed as good an excuse as any to ring in the autumn with this apple cider cake with spiced cider butterscotch sauce — not that you need much of an excuse to make it. To apples!
Apple Cider Cake with Spiced Cider Butterscotch Sauce
adapted from A Kitchen Year by Paula McIntyre
Serves 4 to 6
Paula McIntyre says that this cake is even better after sitting for a day or two.
for the apple cider cake:
50 g (1/3 cup) sultanas or raisins
100 ml (1/2 cup) cider
250 g (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) butter, softened
175 g (1 cup) dark brown sugar
75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
4 large eggs
250 g (2 cups) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 red eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
for the spiced cider butterscotch sauce:
150 g (3/4 cup) Demerara sugar
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of nutmeg
100 ml (1/2 cup) extra cider + the reserved cider from the soaked sultanas
1 tablespoon maple syrup, or even better, Highbank Orchard apple syrup
200 ml (3/4 cup) double cream
To make the cake, soak the sultanas in the cider overnight (or failing that, for at least 30 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter a 20 cm (8 inch) cake tin and line with non-stick parchment paper.
Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour and spices into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly, then add the apples and mix into the cake batter. Drain the sultanas, reserving the liquid for the butterscotch sauce. Mix the sultanas in well. Pour the batter into the buttered and lined cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
To make the cider butterscotch sauce, place the sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, reserved cider, 100 ml extra cider and the syrup in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid is thick and syrupy. Add the cream and boil until the sauce is thick and creamy. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and serve with the cake. Store any unused sauce in the fridge in an airtight container.