These apple cakes are naughty little winter treats and the perfect fortification for when the weather takes a turn for the chilly. The cakes themselves are relatively simple fayre (although by no means anything less than delicious), but the real star is the brandied date that rests on top of the slightly spiced icing. I've labelled them brandied as they are lightly candied in maple syrup and finished with a dash of flambe'd brandy. That's right you heard me correctly, bring on the flambe!!!!
Prep time: 30 Mins
Baking time 30 Mins (Plus a few minutes to brandy the dates)
For the dates
6 Fat Medjool Dates (Halved and stoned)
2tbsp Maple Syrup
For the cakes
200g Plain Flour
185g Light Muscovado Sugar
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
175ml Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs (Beaten)
2 Large Dessert Apples
For the buttercream
150g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
300g Icing Sugar
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
Let us start with the dates. Add the date halves to a small pan over a medium heat along with the maple syrup. Stir very gently until the syrup starts to loosen then add the brandy. Hold a lighter to the vapor of the brandy which will ignite a very gentle flame. Leave the flame to burn away, gently shaking the pan, then give the dates a final soft stir before removing each one onto a sheet of baking paper. Leave to cool and you are then free to start the cakes.
For the cakes preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and well grease a 12 cup muffin tray. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg to a large bowl and mix together. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the oil and beaten eggs. Vigorously mix together until smooth and consistent, then set to one side whilst you prepare the apples.
Peel, core and quarter the apples, then slice thinly. Gently fold the apples through the cake batter, take care not to break up the apples (although don't fret if this happens to one or two!). Evenly spoon the coated apples into you prepared muffin cups, then top evenly with any excess mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until risen and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into one of the cakes. When you are happy the cakes are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes in the tray. Run a flat bladed knife around the edge of each muffin cup, carefully turn your cakes out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
When the cakes are cool you can prepare the buttercream, which is sooooo easy. Cream together the butter and icing sugar, along with the cinnamon until smooth and silky. You can add a dash more cinnamon if you want the icing a bit more pokey but take care not to overdo it! Spread the buttercream over each cake and top with a brandied date. And there you have it, job done!