Apple Cake - a Limousin Speciality
Limousin Apple Cake
This moist, spicy apple cake is a Limousin speciality and is ideal to serve as a dessert at Les Trois Chenes Chambres d'hotes in the autumn. It makes use of the delicious, organic apples (they grow by themselves without any intervention from us at all!) that load our trees from September to December.
Of course Limousin is famous for apples and pears. It was here that the real Golden Delicious apple was perfected (not to be confused with the degraded commercial apples available in supermarkets).
This recipe includes walnuts, another autumn Limousin crop here. Many people in this region have their own walnut trees and bags of nuts are offered here at this time. What could be more appropriate than to serve this seasonal, traditional Limousin speciality? Well, to serve it on Limoge's famous white porcelain plates I suppose!
The rich history of apples in Limousin - home of Golden Delicious
The apple can be traced back to Turkey and Iran - perhaps the real Garden of Eden?, and came to France with the Romans. They flourish in Limousin, the high plains being not so dissimilar from their original terrain. They were grown in the orchards of chateaux and monasteries, the gardens of cottages and in the hedgerows and, along with chestnuts and potatoes, formed the staple diet of the people of Limousin. At the turn of the century, apples were mostly used for cider, which was one method for preserving them through the winter, however, Limousin apples were renown for their keeping abilities. Our apples, if chosen carefully and wrapped and stored well will easily last until Christmas.
The development of the apple industry didn't begin until the 20 century with the improvement of transport, and at that time the range of varieties of apple grown widened. They were sent to Paris, Marsailles, Germany, England and North Africa. For more information have a look at the site Pomme de Limousin.
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To make this moist apple cake you will need:
- 6 - 8 apples
- 1/4 pint / 200ml / 1/2 cup of sunflower oil, olive oil or similar
- 5 oz, 200 g / 2/3 cup sugar
- 12 oz / 300g / 2 3/4 cups of sifted flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 level tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1/8 pint / 1/4 cup / 75ml orange or grapefruit juice
- 4oz / 125g / 1/2 cup walnuts roughly chopped (optional)
- 3 level teaspoons of baking powder
- a slurp of vanilla essence
- pinch of salt
- Icing sugar to dust when serving
I used a 71/2 inch or 18cm diameter cake tin, 4 inches deep (11 cm), with a push-up bottom.
Prepare the apples
Peel, core and then chop the apples into chunks roughly about 1cm cubed. Put them into a bowl with the powdered cinnamon and stir until the apple is well coated. Set this aside.
The sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add the chopped nuts. In a separate bowl (I know - three bowls, lots of washing up but I promise you it is worth it!), put the eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil, and whisk well. Carefully mix the egg mixture into the flour a little at a time until you have a smooth paste. It should have a soft dropping consistency.
Prepare the tin
Oil your baking tin. I lined the base of mine with greaseproof paper, and I think this was a good idea. I then oiled the paper as well to be on the safe side.
If you want to line your cake tin have a look at this: How to Line a Cake Tin
Mix half the apple with the mixture
Add half the apple to the mixture and stir gently, then put into the cake tin. Pour the rest of the apple in a layer on top and sprinkle with a little more sugar. The bake in the oven at gas mark 3 for one hour. Check the progress. If it is browning on the top but still not cooked in the centre (test this by prodding lightly or putting a skewer into it - if the skewer comes out clean, it is cooked), cover with foil to protect it.
When the cake is ready you should be able to smell it! Test again, don't overcook or you will lose that fabulously moist texture we are aiming for. (You will soon notice that I don't do light, fluffy cakes that melt in the mouth - give me a nice, heavy, moist, cake any day!!)
Gently slip a knife around the edges and turn the cake upside down onto your hand, remove the paper then cool on a baking tray.
I served my Limousin apple cake on Limoges Porcelain
Limousin is famous for it's apples, it's Limousin beef cattle and for Limoges porcelain. At Les Trois Chenes I've chosen Limoges porcelain because it's a local product with a long and interesting history, but also because it's beautiful, fine to the point of being translucent, but very, very strong. Find out more about Limoges porcelain
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Variations on this apple cake recipe
- Try pears instead of apples
- Add orange rind cut into thin strips
- Add crystallised ginger
Apple cake for a birthday celebration
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Visit Limousin and try our apples and speciality dishes
Why not plan a gourmet trip to this fascinating but forgotten corner of South West France? Why run with the crowd, the noise, the rip-off merchants, the traffic and traffic jams when you could relax in the countryside and enjoy real France?
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