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Tuesday 6 May 2014

Baking for Beginners: Apple & Anise Madeira Cakes

I've been dying to use these little loaf tins ever since I saw them, mainly because, heck, we love loaf cakes here at DSHQ. Any excuse to eat a whole one to myself is alright in my book. Another plus point is that they bake a bit faster than normal loaf large cakes, meaning less baking, more eating.

Star anise, rum and apple makes these cakes a little different, whilst still keeping the subtle, buttery madeira vibe. If you don't have any star anise, you can always replace with fennel seeds.

Apple & Anise Madeira Cakes
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 35 minutes

You will need:
For the apple puree:
  • 4 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 tbsp rum
  • 40ml water
For the cake:
  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour 
  • 2 tbsp milk
For the sugar syrup:
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 3 star anise
  • icing sugar, to decorate
Make it!
The puree:
  1. Place the apples, star anise, rum and water in a small saucepan. 
  2. Simmer over a low heat for 5-10 minutes, until the apple is soft. (Top up the water a little if you need to). 
  3. Scoop out the star anise and set aside for later. 
  4. Using a hand blender or a masher, blitz the apples into a puree and set aside. 
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line 4 mini loaf tins. (You could also use a 900g / 2lb loaf tin, just add another 10-15 minutes to the cooking time). 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Beat the eggs and pour a third into the butter mix, along with a tablespoon of the flour to stop the mixture from curdling. Stir well. Repeat with the other two thirds. 
  4. Slowly sift in the rest of the flour and stir lightly until just combined. Add the milk. 
  5. Gently stir the cooled apple puree into the cake mixture.
  6. Spoon equally into the loaf tins and smooth the tops flat. 
  7. Bake for around 35 minutes until golden brown and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Set on a wire rack to cool slightly. 
The sugar syrup:
  1. Place the leftover star anise in the saucepan along with the sugar and water. 
  2. Simmer over a low heat until thickened slightly and reduced.
  3. Poke holes in the cakes with a skewer and spoon over the syrup so that it soaks in. 
  4. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

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