Growing up, a version of this apple pound cake sat on the work surface of our kitchen day in day out, a regular fixture to a space in constant flux. I suppose because it was always there I didn’t view it as a treat, despite it being sweet. From Monday to Friday it was tucked into our lunch boxes, wrapped in brown paper, when all my brother and I really wanted was a KitKat like everyone else. We complained about it, of course, but it remained ever constant. My dad used to take it to work with him in a dish, with cream sloshing about, on the back of his bike every morning; good cake, he would tell my mum at night, good cake, to which my brother and I would roll our eyes at each other.
We didn’t know it at the time, but as we flew the nest this cake was to become one of the things we missed most about home. Like many of the recipes that came by way of my Grossmutter, this one is simple and good in the plainest sense – an everyday cake and one that now sits on our kitchen work surface, too.
One of the reasons why this was Mum’s regular go-to bake is because it is so easy to make. The batter takes less than 10 minutes to mix together because it is made with melted butter, far quicker than a batter in which the butter and sugar need creaming until light and fluffy.
For the batter
butter 175g, plus extra for greasing
golden caster sugar 150g
plain flour 200g
baking powder 1 tsp
eggs 3, beaten
fine sea salt ¼ tsp
For the topping
apples 6 small, peeled, cored and halved (I prefer to use cookers such as Bramleys for their tart flavour, but eaters hold their shape better)
vanilla sugar 1 tbsp
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4. Butter a 23cm flan dish or tin with a removable base.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then turn off the heat and add the sugar. Beat for a minute, then add the flour, baking powder, eggs and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter is formed. Pour the batter into the flan dish or tin.
Put the apple halves flat side down on a board and cut into them at about 3mm intervals, but not all the way through, so they are in slices but still hold together.
Arrange them flat side down on the batter. Scatter over the raisins and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the dish or tin. I tend to slice it straight from the dish, but if you have baked it in a tin, you can remove it once cooled.
This is best eaten the day it is made, but is still fine the following day if it is stored wrapped in foil.
A little marzipan grated into the batter mix adds a chewy texture, as well as a burst of almond joy in each mouthful.
Swap the apples for pears, or scatter some raspberries on to the cake batter before baking and omit the raisins.