Quite a few years back I went to a cooking class with Philip Johnson from Ecco. He is one of my favourite chefs, I love his approach to cooking. He will say it is all about great ingredients. I believe the same thing and I will pay more for ingredients that are in season or made by artisans. The cooking class was fantastic and the stand out recipe for me was the dessert. A Sicilian Apple and Pine Nut Cake. Philip served it with an apple gelati but I am just as happy to serve it with a vanilla ice cream. The other appeal of this cake is it’s Sicilian origins. Being married to a Sicilian and having visited his homeland several times has given me a love for this island and the people. It has an essence that I have not experienced anywhere else. A rustic edge that while stark is also rich in history. Actually the recipe has these qualities too. At first glance it looks just like another apple cake but then when you slice into it there are layers with interesting surprises. It is possible to make this gluten free as I have or just use normal plain flour if gluten is not a problem.
Sicilian Apple Cake
120grams unsalted butter melted
1/2 kilo of granny smith apple cored and sliced thinly
150g gluten free plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
250g brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
100 mls milk
1/4 of a cup of raisins
1/8 of a cup of toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Toast the walnuts in the oven at 170C for about 10 mins. Make sure they don’t burn.
Line a 23cm cake tin with baking paper. Pour a little of the melted butter into the tin and sprinkle over the toasted walnuts.
In a bowl, mix the sliced apples with the lemon zest and juice.
In a third bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence. Mix in the milk and the rest of the butter. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
Pour half the batter over the walnuts in your cake tin. Arrange half of the apples, juice and zest over the batter and sprinkle over half the raisins. Pour the rest of the batter into the tin and arrange the rest of the apples, zest and juice and sprinkle over the rest of the raisins. Lastly sprinkle on the pine nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Bake at 170C for 1 hour. It should be set but still moist.