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Sunday, May 8, 2011, is Mother’s Day in the United States.  Maybe you’re an American wondering if you can bake a cake for your mother.  If so, this is one of the easiest recipes ever, especially for novice bakers!

I’ve developed this cake recipe myself over a period of weeks, and it’s something that children or dads can make.  It’s also good for working mums who wish to bake a homemade cake for their own mothers! N.B.: It does require some knife skills, but other than that, it’s a beginner’s recipe that gives great results.

The cake is reminiscent of something your grandmother might have enjoyed.  It’s also one which you can enjoy all year around.

You will need an electric mixer or a good whisk, a tablespoon, a large mixing bowl, a paring knife and one deep-dish pie plate.

(My thanks to Dr Gregory Jackson for the inspired graphic!)

Churchmouse’s Super-moist, Super-light Apple Cake

(6 servings of 225 cal. each, 60 minutes — includes prep time)

Ingredients:

5 level tbsp soft butter

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

9 level tbsp sugar

9 level tbsp self-raising flour (or the same amount of regular flour topped off with 1/2 – 1 tsp baking powder)

9 level tbsp whole milk (or substitute 1 tbsp Calvados or an apple-based drink for one of the tablespoons of milk)

2 medium apples (not too sweet) — peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Method:

1/ Preheat oven to 350º F (if you’re in the US) or 170° C for fan ovens and 180° C — Gas Mark 4 — for conventional ovens.

2/ Grease and flour a deep-dish pie plate.  Set aside.

3/ Place butter in a large mixing bowl.  It should be soft.  If not, place it in the microwave for 30 – 40 seconds to soften.  I normally melt mine.

4/ Once the butter has softened, add the egg, bicarbonate of soda and the vanilla.

Churchmouse says: Bicarb adds a lightness to cakes and ideally should be added when the egg is because the two react together.  (This tip comes from an Italian chef working in England, Gino D’Acampo; he explained on ITV’s Daily Cooks Challenge that he learned it at catering college in Italy.)

5/ Gently beat the butter, egg and bicarb until combined.  (A high mixing speed will cause this mix to go all over the kitchen!)  You’ll know it’s emulsified when you no longer see a rim of butterfat around the sides of the bowl.

6/ Carefully count in the nine tablespoons of sugar.  Beat at a low speed for 30-40 seconds until well combined.

7/ Add the nine tablespoons of flour.  Beat at low to medium speed for a minute or so, until just incorporated into the mix with no lumps.  Overbeating will make the cake heavy. 

Churchmouse says: Some will balk at adding the flour so late, however, this is another tip for a light sponge from Gino D’Acampo.  The egg must go in before the flour in order for the cake to be light in texture.  Also, I have tried switching around the other ingredients but find that this order gives the best result.  Anything else will produce a heavier sponge.

8/ Add the milk and beat at low to medium speed for 40 seconds or so, again, just until incorporated.  Batter should be a thick liquid.

9/ The cake should have a good vanilla flavour.  If you need to add more, please do.

10/ Add the peeled, cored, thinly-sliced apples to the mix.  Stir gently to incorporate.  (Preparing the apples is something that an older teen or adult can do whilst the kids are having fun counting the tablespoons and mixing the ingredients. If the kids are using the electric mixer, make sure they are supervisedno fingers near the beaters!!)

11/ Spoon or pour the mix into the prepared pie plate.  Ensure that there are no apple pieces sticking up at an angle — just nudge them gently into the batter.  As for the empty bowl?  You’ll be fighting over any leftover batter — it’s very tasty!

12/ Put the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.  Rotate halfway through.  The cake will take on an even brown on top and will be somewhat bubbly near the edge.  This gives a gentle crunch later on.  The cake is finished when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

13/ Let the cake cool for 45 minutes to an hour.  Cut with a spatula and serve.  The cake crumb should be moist and somewhat pliant. I would not reverse this from the pie dish onto a plate as it is too delicate.  Just serve it as it is.

14/ Serve, if you wish, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  Personally, I enjoy eating it as is.  It will keep well overnight — I just place mine uncovered in the oven.  If there’s any left over — which is unlikely — you can gently reheat for 10 minutes or so and it should come out as if it were first baked.

Have fun!  If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

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