I can safely say that I am crazy about apples. I eat two or three each day, I bake desserts using apples, I put them next to main courses as a side dish, I make apple ice-cream, and chutney, and even mincemeat for my mice pies at Christmas. I freeze them or make apple compote to keep over winter. I basically use them every time I can. For me, there is no such a thing as a cooking apples; they are all equally good for eating and cooking.
This slight obsession with apples comes from home, but it has also been nurtured here in the UK. It is one of the many things my two countries have in common. The climate in Romania is perfect for growing apples, and we use them in a multitude of desserts, sweet or savoury pies, and in main courses. You will find a lot of recipes with apples on this website.
This apple torte is very popular back home, therefore it has quite a lot of variations, with jam or no jam, syrup or no syrup, sauce or not. I’ve made this recipe the way I like it the most: with everything in.
The use of carob is reminiscent of those days when we couldn’t find chocolate, so we had to be creative and use what was available. This was before 1989. However, the carob has such a delicate flavour, perfect for this dessert, lighter than a chocolate sauce.
For the caramel sauce and filling
lemon juice from 1 lemon
50g jam, preferably cherry jam but you can use strawberry or orange
For the cake:
2 tsp vanilla essence
5g baking powder
200ml double cream
1tsp vanilla essence
For the carob sauce
100 maple syrup (or honey)
1 tbsp carob powder (bought from Holland and Barrett)
Method (needs overnight resting)
The apples: core and peel them, keep them whole, squeeze a little lemon juice on top and set aside.
Choose the right pan: find a deep ceramic (or metal) pan big enough to accommodate all the apples. Mine was 20cm diameter. The walls of the pan should be higher than the apples. You will have to bake the cake in it, so make sure it is oven proof.
Make the caramel: now put the sugar in the pan and make the caramel. Remember don’t stir the caramel, just gently wait for the sugar to melt and change colour. When it is done, slowly try to bring the caramel around the pan’s walls, with slow round movements. Do this until the caramel is cool.
Put the apples in: put the apples in, following the shape of the pan, and in the middle, too. Fill each apple with your favourite jam and put cubes of butter among them. Add the water and put in the oven for 10 minutes, 180C. Don’t panic if the water hasn’t reduced after this time. Take it out of the oven.
Make the cake mix:
Whisk the egg whites with the sugar until soft peaks form. Mix the egg yolks with the oil in a separate bowl, then fold them gently into the egg whites mix. Sieve the flour and the baking power on top, and stir slowly. Pour the mix over the apples, and put the pan back in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Leave to cool overnight: after 20 minutes, take the pan out and leave the cake to cool in the pan overnight. Otherwise, it won’t be easy to take it out of the pan.
Make the carob sauce: put the maple syrup and carob power in to a pan and bring to the boil. Add a splash of water if it’s too thick. Set aside to cool slightly, then add the cointreau. It is ready to serve.
Make the vanilla cream: whisk the cream and the vanilla essence to soft peaks.
Serve: put a plate on top of the cake pan and turn upside down. The cake should come out easily on to the plate. Cover with the vanilla cream and put in the fridge to set for 20 minutes. Slice it and serve it with a drizzle of carob sauce. Keep in the fridge until all finished.
Tip: this is one of those desserts that tastes better the following day. So do allow a day to cool it before serving.