Friday, 2 October 2009

The north wind doth blow...

As the weather changes, so do people's tastes. Light and lemony treats give way to warm, dark and rich cakes as it gets cold and dark outside. So, I need to change the cakes I'm making accordingly. One new cake I'm doing is Riet's Dutch Apple Cake.

Back in Canada, my mum met Riet on the maternity ward when they were each having their second kids. She was from Holland, mum was from the UK and they both were relatively recent immigrants keen to make friends.

We knew them throughout my childhood and I have two loves to thank them for. The first is National Geographic, which Riet's husband Jos introduced my dad to and we've all loved ever since. The second is the Dutch apple cake Riet cooked for us every time we visited.

I'm sure it wasn't always on the table if I think about it sensibly; but in my memory I never think of Riet without thinking of the cake too.

It is the easiest of cakes to make, if you have cup measures and a Bundt tin.

Preheat the oven to 190. Butter and flour your Bundt tin, because it is a right pain if the cake sticks.

Melt 250g of butter in a large bowl.
Using a hand mixer, add:
  • 1 1/2 cups of caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
in that order, mixing well after each addition.
Peel and slice :
  • 3 medium eating apples
Tip two thirds of the batter into the Bundt tin. Add the apples and a dusting of cinnamon if you like. Cover up with the last third of batter and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool completely before you try to turn it out.

This cake is one of those that drives home for me yet again that a cake that works perfectly at home isn't always OK for retail. It's just gorgeous, it really is. But the extra surface area of a Bundt cake means that, sitting out on a cafe counter all day, it is likely to dry out. The mix is too wet to do as a tray bake (believe me, I've tried) and ditto a round cake. If the amounts are halved it works as a loaf, but it is a pretty uninspiring sight. Whereas the lovely round Bundt cake looks gorgeous.

I've spent all week faffing with the recipe trying to make it work for a client who wants it. I even tried to distract her with Italian Apple Cake (a tray bake, so easy for her cafe) but to no avail. Riet's cake is just too delicious and anything else doesn't come close.

I'm having similar problems with chocolate gingerbread - this time with icing recipes rather than the cake itself. It's a dense, moist cake with a chocolate glace icing. As the cafe staff move the slices about, the icing cracks and creases as glace icing is wont to do. It tastes delicious but it looks a right mess, and thus it does not sell. Cake not selling does not make my client a happy cafe owner. So, back to the drawing board. I've got a cake I'd divided into quarters so i can try 4 different types of icing and see what works.

Between the two cakes I am driving myself mad as well as spending a fortune on ingredients for cakes I am not selling. So far I'm disposing of the excess cake by taking slices of it to hand out in the schoolyard and to my neighbours' houses.



  1. So I had to google to find out what a bundt tin was (it was what I sort of thought I thought it was) and found a page on wikipedia which also had mini bundt cakes - could that work for selling? Would mean investing in more pans of course...

  2. Coincidentally, I met someone today who might be interested in buying individual cakes from me, so that is something i'm going to think about. Ta nic!