Wednesday 14 October 2009

Apple & Blackberry Cake: Spiced Bramley Apple Cake with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting & Coulis

It was my Grandmothers birthday a few weeks back and like me, she is a fellow fruit and foraging fanatic. This summer we have spent many a happy hour together, half engulfed by bushes down country lanes, picking plums and blackberries and enjoying days out at nearby pick-your-owns, digging up our own leeks and potatoes. When her birthday approached this year I was determined to bake her a special birthday cake making use of some of the fruits we had gathered together. As our most recent excursion had been blackberring I knew they would have to feature somewhere and decide to pair them with their best flavour companion, apple.

I have been working on my own recipe for apple sandwich cake layers, on and off, for some time now and have recently reached what I considered to be my ideal apple sponge cake. I decided that this would be the perfect time to give it its debut. It makes use of lots of freshly made Bramley apple puree and, naturally where I’m concerned, spices. The resulting cake is wonderfully moist but without it being dense or stodgy. It smells incredible during baking, sweet, warm apples and a mix of fragrant spices, reminiscent of cider warming on the hob at Christmas.

The blackberry cream cheese frosting was a bit of a wild card. I had an idea of adding lots of blackberry puree into the frosting, but I wasn’t at all sure it would work without turning into a runny goo, but I knew if I didn’t try, I would never know. I thickened the puree with a little arrowroot which stopped it being so ‘wet’ while ensuring its colour remained bright and glossy. I’m thrilled to say it worked well. I used half the coulis in the frosting which turned a gorgeous shade of purple, and spread the remaining half over the top of the finished cake as a glaze, which added an extra hit of intense blackberry flavour.

This finished cake was absolutely packed full of apple flavour - fresh and slightly sharp, that seemed to explode in your mouth, followed by an undertone of warming spices. The frosting was thick, creamy and smooth with a distinctive tang of fresh blackberries and such a striking natural colour! When paired together, the resulting cake with its moist spiced apply sweetness, velvety frosting and fruity twang is nothing short of heavenly.

The cake was meant to be a triple layer cake, but one of my cake layers suffered an accident, so I ended up only making a double layer cake – I was initially disappointed, but on the plus side this meant we had some leftover frosting to serve with the cake, which can never be a bad thing. So happy birthday Grandma! Thank you for so many happy fruit filled memories.

Spiced Bramley Apple Cake with Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting & Coulis

(Recipe by me)

Spiced Apple Cake

400g plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

220g butter

200g light soft brown sugar

4 eggs

Apple puree (see below)

Bramley Apple Puree

4 Bramley apples

200ml water

150g caster sugar

Blackberry Coulis

700g blackberries (400ml blackberry juice)

70g caster sugar

1 tsp arrowroot

Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

250g icing sugar

200g cream cheese

100g butter

Half the blackberry coulis (above)

100ml double cream for decoration

Method – Bramley Apple Puree

Peel and core the Bramley apples and cut into small chunks. Place the apple into a saucepan and add the water.

Heat and allow to cook until softened and starting to break down and turn mushy. Stir in the sugar and allow to cook for a further 5 minutes until all of the water has evaporated and the apple is thick and pulpy. Remove from the heat and mash gently with a fork until a smooth puree is formed. Set aside to cool.

Spiced Apple Cake

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease three 8inch/20cm sandwich pans and line the bases with greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until well combined and soft. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the prepared apple puree (the mix will look very runny at this point, but this is ok).

Scatter the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices over the surface of the batter. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter using a large spatula or spoon, until no flour streaks remain.

Divide the batter evenly between the three cake tins (they will be very full).

Bake for 30-35 minutes until risen, lightly golden brown and springy to the touch. (The batter will rise to the top of the tin during baking, but will sink back down slightly on cooling).

Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before unmoulding onto a cooling rack, peeling off the base paper and leaving to cool.

Blackberry Coulis

Rinse the blackberries under cool running water to remove any dust or dirt. Place the berries into a large pan and crush them slightly to release some of their juices. (There is no need to dry the berries first, as any water that remains on the berries will help start the cooking process).

Heat the blackberries and bring the mixture to the boil as the juices are released. Allow to boil for 15 – 20 minutes then remove from the heat.

Position a large bowl under a sieve and push the fruit through the sieve to remove the pips, catching the juice in the bowl below.

Rinse out the pan and pour the blackberry juice back in. Stir in the sugar and bring the mixture back to the boil.

Boil for 10 minutes until the juice has reduced by nearly half.

Dissolve the arrowroot in 2 tsp of cold water and add to the pan, stirring well. Continue to stir gently until the mixture has thickened and become slightly jelly like.

Remove from the heat and pour the coulis into a bowl and leave to cool before refrigerating until cold before using.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and well combined. Sift over the icing sugar, a third at a time, beating well between each addition.

Fold in half of the cooled blackberry coulis, reserving the rest for later.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour, to firm up, before using.

To Assemble

Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate and spread over a quarter of the blackberry cream cheese frosting. Top with another cake layer, another quarter of the frosting and top with the final cake layer.

Use the remaining half of the frosting to generously cover the top and sides of the cake.

Whip the double cream until soft peaks form. Place the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe a border of cream around the top outside rim of the cake and another middle ring of you wish.

Using the reserved blackberry coulis, drizzle it over the top of the frosted cake, inside the piped cream border. Gently spread it out into an even layer to cover the whole top of the cake. (I found putting the coulis into a squeezy bottle helped).

Decorate with extra flowers or candles as you wish.

Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Store any leftovers in the fridge and eat within 3-4 days.

Serves 12-16

(Makes an 8inch/20cm triple layer cake – I only ended up with a two layer cake as my third layer had an unfortunate accident with the floor!)


Johanna GGG said...

What a wonderful creation - I love the colours and the fruity flavours - just a shame blackberries aren't easier to come by here - I wish I could find them on a forest floor nearby (if there were forests near me)

symphonious sweets said...

Wow I love the natural colors! The flavor combo sounds amazing too! I like your story about spending time with your grandmother foraging fruit. I enjoy walking around picking fruit as well.. glad to hear other people share this "hobby".

Chele said...

Fantastic colours with the icing and cake layers. Well done on creating a recipe from scratch.

Snooky doodle said...

oh this looks so nice and delicious. The colour is amazing. That cream cheese frosting looks so good!

Monica H said...

OMG. Blackberry cream cheese frosting sounds incredible. pure geniousness on your part and what a lovely cake for your grandmother.

Such a stunning color too.

Simones Kitchen said...

That color is amazing! What a wonderful cake..

The Caked Crusader said...

oh wow - the colour of that frosting is amazing...and natural!
Sad to hear that the third tier suffered a nasty accident - it always upsets me when cake meets a bleak end.

Choclette said...

What a fantastically creative cake - AND it looks as though it tastes delicious. Love the idea of using blackberries in a cake.

Talita said...

How beautiful color!! Sounds very tasty!

Michael said...

this looks so nice!
check out my recipe blog and tell me what you think:


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That looks absolutely stunning! You know, you just don't see cakes that shade very much and I don't know why. It's so eyecatching and gorgeous!

Elle said...

That's a stunning cake...I love the colors taht the frosting has from the berries!

Trish said...

I am soooo glad I happened in on you today....I have blackberries coming out of my ears...did not get to making jam this year so a freezer full. I love them...and this cake is going to go to a party! Perfect!

Shaheen said...

Now that is a seasonal cake if I ever did see one. The blackberry cheese frosing sounds sumptuous and the colours are truly amazing. A feast for the eyes for those of us who can't get a slice. Splendid!