With the daylight drawing in and Halloween fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about my favourite autumn recipes. There’s still an abundance of apples this year and I love toffee and caramel, so toffee apples are high on my list. Here’s my toffee apple cake which was created based on Grandma Abson’s jottings. It’s a scrumptious cake for Apple Day on 21 October and a scarily easy recipe for both Halloween on 31 October and Bonfire Night on 5 November!
Toffee apple cake
What you need
175g/6 oz caster sugar
2 tbs water
2 large or 3 small apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
1 orange (zest and juice)
2 tsps cinnamon
300g/11 oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
175g/6oz self raising flour (sifted)
½ tsp baking powder
How to bake
Line a 20cms/8 inch cake tin with a cake liner or greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan)/350F/Mark 4. Place the caster sugar and water in a pan over a high heat and cook until the sugar has melted and is turning light brown – do not stir. Pour the mixture into the cake tin to cover the base.
Arrange the apple slices on top of this and sprinkle with the cinnamon and half of the orange zest. Cream 175g/6oz butter, 175g/6oz soft brown sugar in a bowl and add the eggs gradually. Then stir in the flour and baking powder, orange juice of half the orange and remaining orange zest. Spread this mixture over the apples and bake for around 45 -50 minutes.
Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool. Melt the remaining butter and soft brown sugar in a pan, and whisk in the remaining orange juice. Pour the mixture over the top of the apples and allow to cool.
What is ‘bobbing for apples’?
The tradition of bobbing for apples dates back to Roman times in Britain, when the conquerors combined their own autumn celebrations with traditional Celtic festivals. Halloween became associated with bobbing for apples because it falls on 31 October, which is the same day as the Celtic holiday, Samhain. This Gaelic celebration marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Some areas of the country call this activity ‘ducking’. In North East England, bobbing an apple is called ‘dookie’ (ducking) and in Scotland, it’s called ‘dooking’.
How do you play ‘bobbing for apples’?
Nowadays it’s a game you might see at autumn fairs or Halloween events. Apples are placed in a large tub or bucket of water. Because they are less dense than water, they float on the surface. Participants try to capture an apple with their teeth without using their arms or hands. Now we’re more Covid aware, players use small spoons or chopsticks to try to catch an apple or separate bowls are provided for each player.
Meryl’s tip: There’s no bobbing about or ducking with Grandma’s Toffee Apple Cake. It works well as a dessert with crème fraiche, cream, ice cream or custard.