This loaf makes a lovely breakfast slice, especially when warmed slightly and spread with butter and/ or jam. It’s not an overly sweet cake (despite the large amount of sugar!) and the spices are a gentle echo to the apple. Although we are in the middle of summer as I write, one bite of this took me straight into autumn. I suppose the combination of tart apple, crunchy nuts and warm spices will do that. And as always, I love a recipe that offers minimum preparation time for maximum joy; this is one of those gems.
You could use any nuts: I used walnuts but pecans would also be good. You could also add 100-200g of dried fruit of your choice. And if you don’t have any nutmeg (or cinnamon) you could substitute these with ginger or mixed spice instead.
Apple, Walnut & Spice Tea Loaf
175g butter, plus extra for greasing
175g light muscovado sugar, plus 1 tsp
3 large eggs, beaten
1 eating apple
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g ground almonds
100g chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tsp baking powder
175g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
splash lemon or orange juice
3 tbsps marmalade or apricot jam
Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line the bottom with a strip of baking paper, or use a loaf tin liner. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, then beat in the eggs one by one. Grate half the apple and mix it into the batter with the vanilla, nuts and ground almonds. Mix the baking powder, flour and spices together with a pinch of salt & then fold into the mix until even. Spoon the mix into the tin and level the top.
Thinly slice the remaining apple half, toss with the lemon or orange juice, poke the slices a little way into the batter, then sprinkle with 1 tsp more sugar. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven down to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1. Cover the cake with foil, then bake for another 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin.
To finish the cake, melt the marmalade or jam in a small pan, sieve to remove any lumps & then brush it over the cake to glaze the top. Serve cut into thick slices, and spread with a little butter, if you like. This loaf will freeze for up to 1 month.