One word fills me with joy when it comes to reading a menu or recipe book – dumpling. Sweet, savoury – it doesn’t matter; dumpling is king.
This is a recipe I love, adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’s ultimate guide to all things Scandinavian and baked. It’s a cross between a cake and a desert, with a texture not dissimilar to the steamed puddings I loved as a child; and still whip up on a cold night when nothing else but the dense, comforting embrace of a pudding will do.
Originally designed to be baked in a square unassuming cake tin and served in generous chunks, I prefer to lift it the next level and present it as an upside down cake that will definitely impress your afternoon tea guests. But by all means – go where the afternoon takes you.
Swedish apple dumpling cake or Appelkäka
5 medium, tart cooking apples, peeled and halved (I chose Pink Lady, originally an Australian cultivar grown as a cross between a Lady William and a Golden Delicious)
10 walnut halves
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
Vanilla wafer crumbs, or fine dry breadcrumbs – I used Panko crumbs in a pinch.
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup of softened butter
2/3 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup of ground almonds
2/3 cup of plain flour
2 of teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup of icing sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons single cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
Peel and cut apples into halves lengthwise. Cut off the core and stem ends and scoop out the seeds using a melon baller.
In a saucepan, combine the 1/2 of cup sugar, water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the apples. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmering, and cook 8 minutes until the apples are just barely tender. Be careful not to overcook, as some apples will suddenly transform from hard to collapsed in seconds.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Butter a 20 cm round spring form cake pan and dust it heavily the vanilla wafer crumbs, or breadcrumbs.
Drain the apples and place them with their cut sides down into the cake pan, carefully placing a walnut half underneath each hollow.
Separate the eggs and, with a hand mixer, beat the whites until stiff. Set aside.
In another bowl cream the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar. Add the egg yolks, ground almonds, flour, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Mixture will be stiff. Blend in the egg whites gently to maintain the lift until well combined.
Spread mixture over the apples in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and mix the icing ingredients. If you following the upside down method, allow the cake to cool slightly and gently release from the cake tin. Place a place over the top of the cake and flip to reveal the apple halves underneath. Drizzle the hot cake with the icing and arrange the lavender flowers. If not, leave the cake in the square tin and drizzle with the icing – serve straight from the pan.
This cake is delicious served warm with some thick cream on the side and a piping hot pot of tea.