Apple and Olive Oil cake with maple icing

Last week, over dinner, a friend asked if I knew of a cake that would improve with keeping. She had barely paused for breath when I blurted out ”Apple and Olive Oil cake.’ Infer from that if you will that I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of cake- you are most welcome. The truth is that I was going to make it the next day, so it was on the brain. And guess what? It’s another Ottolenghi recipe.

My Ottolenghi passion began seven months ago when I (fortutiously) moved within a stone’s throw of its Islington branch.

For those not yet in the know, Ottolenghi is a restaurant/deli/patisserie/ bakery that was set up by the Israeli chef Yotam Ottlenghi in 2002. Ottolenghi has a cult following: if you haven’t noticed its iconic, show-stopping window displays then you might have walked past one its four restaurants and wondered what the queue spilling out onto the street was all about.

The emphasis at Ottolenghi is on natural, fresh, unfussy food; you really can taste each ingredient. Lots of lemon, garlic, olive oil and Middle Eastern flavours.

If you haven’t already been then you need to rethink your weekend plans: there is nowhere else I would happily part with £5 for a chocolate brownie. My justification (as if I needed one) is that its important to support the local economy.

I am entirely unapologetic for the fact that this is the third Ottolenghi recipe I have posted in as many weeks. What follows is a recipe for a sophisticated and elegant cake. It improves with time, the recipe advising that it be kept in the fridge for up to three days before icing.

My dad said that he ‘could eat this cake every day’. The maple icing is particularly special.

So here it is- a recipe for a very delicious, very Ottolenghi cake. Despite what I said before, you actually can’t taste the olive oil. It just makes the cake devestatingly moist and devilishly moreish. Be sure to serve with forks:

Apple and Olive Oil cake with maple icing

(adapted from Ottolenghi: the cookbook)

80g sultanas
4tbsp water
280g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml olive oil
160g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod (I used vanilla essence)
2 eggs
3 bramley apples, cut into 1cm dice
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites

Maple icing

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g light muscovado sugar
85ml maple syrup
220g cream cheese

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1. Grease and line a 20cm springform tin. Place the sultanas and water in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat until the water has been absorbed. Cool.

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2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.

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3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar and vanilla seeds/ essence. Once smooth and thick add the diced apples, sultanas and zest. Fold the sifted ingredients into the oil mixture.

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4. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they are a soft meringue texture. Fold them gently into the mixture. Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth over. It will be very dense with a large volume of apple. Bake for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hrs, or until a skewer comes out clean.

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5. Leave to cool in the tin. Once completely cooled, remove from the tin and cut the cake horizontally to create two rounds. At this juncture you can place the cake in the fridge for up to three days, tightly wrapped in cling film.

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6. To make the icing, beat the butter, sugar and syrup together until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Spread a layer of icing on one round of cake and sandwich the other half on top. Spoon the rest of the icing over the top of the cake.

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And if you didn’t notice him before, then this is Dan- my new scrubbing brush/ kitchen mascot and awesome present.

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