ottolenghi apple and olive oil cake with maple icing

while writing this i am tucking into a slice of this very delicious ottolenghi apple and olive oil cake with maple icing.

this was one of the first recipes i made when i bought the ottolenghi book 18 months ago. sadly i was in a rush which meant that the cake didn’t have time to cool fully before icing so it wasn’t as good as it could have been. despite this it was demolished in very good time by claire and peter who were staying with us at the time.

it’s been on my “try again” list ever since and this weekend i finally got round to it. the cake is wonderfully moist – i do love cakes made with fresh fruit because of this – and the cream cheese and maple syrup icing works really well with the apple and cinnamon flavours in the cake.

i made a few changes to the recipe, swapping sour cherries cooked in pedro ximenez (i know it’s been a theme recently, i’ve been determinedly finishing off a bottle which was a bit too raisiny to drink!) for sultanas, and golden caster sugar for the usual white version. the px-cherries were such a fabulous addition i’d really recommend you try them in this, or any other cake which calls for studs of dried fruit. i think they would make a batch of scones particularly special.

ottolenghi apple and olive oil cake with maple icing (serves 6-8)

80g sultanas (i used dried sour cherries)

4 tablespoons water (i used pedro ximenz)

280g plain flour

½ a teaspoon ground cinnamon (i used vietnamese cassia which has a less fragrant flavour)

¼ teaspoon salt

½ a teaspoon baking powder

1 ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

120ml olive oil

160g caster sugar (i used golden caster sugar)

½ a vanilla pod (i skipped this, thinking the px would add enough extra flavour)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 bramley apples, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes

grated zest of a lemon

2 egg whites

icing sugar for dusting (optional)

maple icing*

100g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

100g light muscovado sugar

85ml maple syrup

220g cream cheese, at room temperature

grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the bottom and sides of it with baking parchment (my tin didn’t have a springform base but i used quite a lot of butter to grease the tin before lining and the cake came out without any problems). place the sultanas (or cherries) and water (or px) in a small saucepan and simmer on low heat until the water has been absorbed. leave to cool.

preheat the oven to 170c.

sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and set aside.

split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. mix the vanilla seeds, olive oil and sugar together with a electric whisk/food processor. gradually add the eggs to create a smooth thick mix. add the diced apples, sultanas, and the lemon zest then lightly fold in the dry ingredients.

in a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. fold these very gently into the main batter in 2 additions, trying to lose as little air as possible.

pour the batter into the lined tin, level it with a palette knife (make a slight indentation in the centre to help create a flat top to the cake). bake for an hour and a half or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. let it cool completely in the tin.

to make the icing:, beat together the butter, muscovado sugar and maple syrup together until light and airy (i used an electric whisk). add the cream cheese and continue beating until thoroughly blended and smooth.

to assemble, cut the cake in half, horizontally, using a serrated knife. spread a 1cm layer of icing over the bottom half of the cake. carefully place the top half on top and spoon the rest of the icing on top of this. dust with icing sugar, if you like.

* i think this makes too much icing for a 20cm cake and will reduce it by one quarter next time.

note: the complex flavours of the cake mature over time so for best results wrap the cake in cling film and refrigerate for up to three days before assembly. that means make the icing on the day you will be eating the cake. for a lower fat version, you can simply sift some icing sugar on the top of the cake.