As well as being a good coffee- or tea-time cake, this makes a comforting pudding, served warm with clotted cream or crème fraîche. I often make it in autumn, when I have a glut of apples.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan 160ºC/350ºF/Gas 4). Grease the traybake tin with butter and line with baking parchment. Quarter, peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, and put them in a shallow dish. Pour over the lemon juice and toss gently together.
- Put the butter, muscovado sugar, flour, baking powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, the eggs, and milk in a large bowl. Beat thoroughly using an electric hand whisk for about 2 minutes (or use a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes) until smooth and light.
- Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Lay half the apple slices on top and sprinkle over the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and carefully level the surface. Scatter the rest of the apple slices over the cake mixture and press them lightly into the surface.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until well risen and golden brown on top. The cake will feel spongy but firm, and will be starting to come away slightly from the edges of the tin. Also, the apples should be soft. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a small palette knife and turn out the cake, peel off the parchment paper, and leave to cool on a wire rack. Sift icing sugar over the top of the cake.
Keys to perfection
Soft, juicy apples: It’s important to slice the apples very thinly. If they’re too thick, they won’t soften enough when baked. Tossing them in lemon juice helps stop them from turning too brown, as well as giving flavour and extra juiciness.
Defined layers: When spreading the second half of the cake mixture over the apples and cinnamon, do so gently using a palette knife to ensure the apple slices beneath aren’t disturbed, thus retaining the layered effect. Spread the apples evenly over the cake mixture and lightly press them in. You don’t need to be too neat when layering the apples; in fact, the top looks more interesting if you scatter over the apples in a random pattern.
Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect is published in paperback with an exclusive tote bag on 3 November. DK, £20.