I know, it's been a while. I've been busy with Christmas and all the eating and drinking that goes along with it.
Especially the eating. Trust me, there is very little I want to do less right now than write my baking blog.
Like last year, I didn't have much time off work before Christmas. I finished work at around 2pm on Christmas Eve, with just enough time to go for a quick drink with colleagues before heading to my parents' house in Surrey.
So to ease the pain of us poor souls who had to work right up to the time when Santa was readying his sleigh, I made a apple and cinnamon kugelhopf (or gugelhupf in Germany, I believe) for the office.
This gave me a welcome opportunity to road test my bundt tin, which I bought in Lidl a while ago. It worked marvellously. This was also the first time I made a yeast leavened cake and it was lovely, so well done me.
The only problem was, this being a yeast leavened cake, I had to get the thing to rise before baking it. In my very cold house in South West London.
But, as my good friend Taylor Swift would say: "bakers gonna bake bake bake bake bake". So I found a solution to my yeast problem. Don't think I don't know that you're sniggering about " yeast problem ". Get your mind OUT of the gutter.
I sat on the sofa, with my cling-filmed bundt tin containing the cake batter in my lap and wrapped myself in blankets, creating a kind of tent over the tin. The trapped heat from my body warmed the batter and it rose. Where there's a will, there's a way. I did feel a bit like a giant chicken incubating her eggs, but that couldn't be helped.
This is closely based on a recipe by Luis Troyano, a finalist on this year's Great British Bake Off and a baker I admire very much.
You will need:
60g unsalted butter (for greasing)
85g softened unsalted butter (to go in the dough)
60g ground almonds
200ml full fat milk
400g plain flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
grated zest of 2 lemons
12g fast action/easy bake dried yeast
2 large eggs
2 green apples, peeled and diced
a bundt tin (circular tin with a bit in the middle to make a ring-shaped cake)
good glug of brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp lemon juice
2 green apples, peeled, cored and cut into rings
50g flaked, toasted almonds
1. Grease the tin well with butter, getting it into all the corners. Put the ground almonds in the tin and turn the tin to ensure all the sides of it are completely coated in ground almonds.
2. Cream together the caster sugar and softened butter, then add the flour, cinnamon, salt, lemon zest and yeast. Don't add the salt and yeast together as salt kills yeast.
3. Warm the milk with the water until it reaches about 45C (if you don't have a thermometer it should be about halfway to boiling point). Add the milk and eggs to the other mixture and if you have a standing mixer, put on the paddle attachment and mix for 5 minutes at medium speed. If not, beating the mixture with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes should achieve the same effect. You're looking for a sticky, stretchy batter - about halfway between a bread dough and cake mixture.
4. Fold in the green apples and sultanas and pour the mixture into the greased tin. Tap the tin (not too sharply) on a hard surface to get the batter into all the corners. Cover the tin in cling-film and put it somewhere warm for 70 minutes, 25C is an ideal temperature.
5. Preheat the oven to 190C. The kugelhopf is ready for the oven when the batter has risen almost to the top of the tin.
6. Bake the kugelhopf for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. While it is baking, add all the ingredients for the topping save for the apples and almonds to a large frying pan and bring to the boil. Add the apples and reduce the heat to produce a gentle simmer. Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning the apples often until they have softened and the liquid thickened a little.
7. When the cake is finished baking, leave it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then upturn the tin and shake it gently until the cake slides out. Pierce the top of the cake a few times and pour over half the liquid from the apples. Arrange the apples in a circle on top of the kugelhopf and drizzle with the remaining liquid, then scatter with the toasted flaked almonds.
Disclaimer: Taylor Swift is not my close friend, I merely admire her from afar. Unfortunately, she is yet to write any baking-based lyrics.
To my knowledge.