SO...from top to bottom we have the field across the road from my house in all it's burnished cider and marmalade colours, apples on the knarled old tree in the back yard, a cider press courtesy of Farmer's Fare, a roasting apple on a stick and cider cake...a quiet, humble little thing...subtle and demure. James and I went down to Rockport to see apples being ground into pulp which was then mercilessly squeezed in the cider press and the resulting delicious nectar was drunk with great relish. I came home and looked in my trusty old cookbooks and found a recipe for Cider Cake in "Traditional Irish Food"...in Gaelic the cake is Ciste ceirlise. I promptly made the cake and here is the recipe...with my own added twist, a play on Britain's favourite Sticky Toffee Pudding.
CIDER CAKE: (I should note here for the Brits reading cider in the U.S. means freshly pressed UNalcoholic apple juice, for the Americans when the Brits and Irish say cider they mean HARD cider...I decided to be contrary to both and I used frozen concentrated apple juice in the cake for extra flavour)
8oz unbleached flour
pinch of salt
goodly pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4oz butter ( I always use salted butter but you may use unsalted if you so desire!)
4oz fine brown sugar
2 eggs beaten because they have misbehaved in some way
1/4 pint cider (I made up this amount with TWICE the concentrate that the directions said on the frozen concentrate conatiner)
6 tBsps frozen apple juice
2 1/2oz sugar
1 1/2oz butter (again I use salted...I like that salt tang)
2 tBsps fresh cream
1. Mix dry ingredients together well
2. Cream butter and sugar til very light and fluffy
3. Add beaten eggs bit by bit to prevent curdling
4. Fold in half the flour mix
5. Add the extra strength apple juice, if you only have apple juice you could boil it down for extra flavour.
6. Fold in the remaining flour
7. Spoon mix into a greased and floured 7" shallow cake tin and bake at 325F for about 45 minutes. Leave in cake tin for the next bit!!!
8. TOPPING: Melt brown sugar, butter, cream and frozen apple juice together in a pan....let bubble gently for about 5 minutes until mixture thickens.
9. Light broiler (grill)...pour topping deliciousness over the cake still in the pan and broil until bubbling but NOT burnt, when the cake cools it has a nice crisp top with apple 'goo' round the edges
10. Let cake cool before eating...this cake keeps well, more so if you make it with hard cider which you are welcome to do!!
From THOMAS HARDY'S "THE WOODLANDERS" published 1887
" An apple-mill and press had been erected on the spot, to which some men were bringing fruit from divers points in mawn-baskets (deep, round, coverless two handled wicker baskets) while others were grinding them, and others wringing down the pomace, whose sweet juice gushed forth into tubs and pails......The outskirts of the town were just now abounding with apple-gatherings. They stood in the yards in carts, baskets and loose heaps; and the blue stagnant air of autumn which hung over everything was heavy with a sweet cidery smell. Cakes of pomace (the solid remains of the pressing) lay against the walls in the yellow sun, where they were drying to be used as fuel"
I LOVE the idea of using the pomace as fuel...I bet that would smell good burning in a wood stove!!!