Friday, January 19, 2018

Apple Raisin Cake

I am addicted to The Great British Baking Show, which seems to be on most local PBS stations all the time. I am craving vanilla paste (whatever that is—my market doesn’t have any). I now know what “strong” flour is (higher gluten content). I am particularly enamored of the Slide and Hide ovens from the show—so much so that I’ve installed one in my Irish cottage (but haven’t had a chance to use it yet, sigh).

Don’t we all envy two people who get to eat as many different kinds of baked goods as they choose, and get paid for it? Former hosts Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (a new cast debuted in England last year) certainly look like they’re enjoying their job (and why don't they each weigh 200 pounds?). And while I will probably never make more than ten percent of the baked goods seen on the show, I’m very happy to know how some of those cakes and biscuits and traybakes are made, so I know what to order when I find the right bakery.

I have Mary’s cookbook 100 Cakes and Bakes, and I’ve made a number of the recipes. This one is a modified version of one of them, adapted for American ingredients.

Apple Raisin Cake


7-inch high sided round cake tin with removable base
(Okay, in the real world, how many of you have a 7” pan? I used an 8” one. It worked just fine.)

1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
(the last of the Bramley apples I brought from Ireland. They last really well!)

4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened
4 oz (by weight) light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
6 oz (by weight) self-rising flour (note: if you don’t have any, which most of us don’t, you can make your own according to this recipe: sift together 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. This turned out to be the right amount for this recipe)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz (by weight) raisins (if they seem dry you can soak them in boiling water for a short time—be sure to drain them well before adding them to the cake)(oops, my husband ate all the raisins without telling me, so I substituted currants)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the baking tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Put the apple slices in a small pan, add a dash of water, and cook util just tender. Mash it up a little with a fork (do not make applesauce!). Set aside and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until blended. 

In another bowl, mix together the warm apples and the baking soda. The mixture will fizz, but don’t worry about that. Add it to the butter/sugar mixture.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, nutmeg and cinnamon and add to the butter/sugar mixture. (If you’re wondering where the salt it, remember that it’s in the flour!) Add the raisins (or currants) and fold in with a rubber spatula.

Turn out the mixture into the cake tin and level it.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and has begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and finish cooling on a wire rack.

To serve, you may dust it with a bit of confectioner’s sugar.

Reviewers have been very kind! Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say:

In Connolly’s smart sixth County Cork mystery (after 2017’s Cruel Winter), John Byrne, one of the new American owners of a high-class hotel at Crann Mor, and his management team meet with American transplant Maura Donovan at Sullivan’s, the pub she owns in the Irish village of Leap, to discuss arranging for hotel guests to visit the pub. Hours later, John is found dead, having fractured his skull after apparently falling down a hill on the hotel grounds. During the subsequent police investigation, Helen Jenkins, the marketing manager of John’s company, asks to speak to Maura. When Helen confesses to Maura that she’s her long-lost mother, Maura can’t sort out her feelings about the woman who abandoned her more than 20 years earlier, but she also can’t ignore the bond. For her mother’s sake, Maura, who’s been involved in solving crimes before, decides to look into the suspicious circumstances of John’s death. Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble


  1. Thanks for the recipe! I may try this weekend. I’ve added Many a Twist to my TBR list. Cannot wait to read! Despinlexo at aol dot com

  2. No eggs?? Lately, I've been interested in eggless cakes....going to try baking this today.

    1. That's right (and Mary mentioned that in her original version of the recipe--good for anyone with egg allergies).

  3. Great tip for making your own self-rising flour!

    1. Multiple sources say the stuff gets stale before you get around to using it. What's so hard about combining three ingredients?

  4. Flavors of apple, raisin and spices always do it for me. And thanks for the recipe for self=raising flour, too.

  5. Lovely. Just the thing with a cup of tea.
    I love the fact that the UK answer to almost any challenge is a cup of strong, sweet tea!

    1. For things both good and bad. "You poor dear, your husband just sank on the Titanic? You need a cup of tea."

  6. I love that show too. I know I will never make any of it. May just try this recipe though