December 15, 2020



The other day I braved a visit to one of our local charity shops.  There were no other customers and I needed to enquire whether they have begun accepting donations again after the last lockdown.  We have been gradually sorting through the contents of my dad's bungalow since he moved into sheltered housing and we're trying to sell or give away anything useful rather than just leave it to the house clearance people to dispose of it.

Of course, while I was in there it was impossible to resist a browse and so I bought this book by Rachel Allen.  I like her recipes and have had a good deal of success with them.  When I got home and picked the book up to feast my eyes out plopped yet another hand written recipe, entitled, quite simply, "apple cake".

This has happened several times before and yet again I felt compelled to try the recipe.!

The ingredients were much like a basic sponge recipe but with added apple.  It didn't say if the apple should be chopped or sliced and no tin size was given.  It sounded like a normal 2lb loaf tin or 20cm round tin would work but I decided to use my Tala Bundt tin as it's good for normal quantities of cake mixture (as opposed to the greater volume required for most of the Nordic Ware tins).  It was time for it to have an outing, having been lurking in the depths of the wardrobe for some time.  (I now store my Bundt tins in the wardrobe as they are awkward things to stack and take up a disproportionate amount of space in a kitchen cupboard.)

One of the things that made me want to make the cake is that it called for wholemeal self raising flour.  This is something that I happened to have in stock, a rogue purchase from the previous lockdown when, flustered and not concentrating, I picked it up mistaking it for bread flour.  I used golden caster sugar instead of white and also assumed the 5g of chopped nuts was a mistake and it was meant to be 50g.  The cooking time given was 1 hour but mine was done in 40 minutes so it was a good job I decided to check!  It was probably using the Bundt tin that caused it to cook more quickly.

It was lovely.  With the wholemeal flour and the chopped nuts it had a distinctly nutty flavour and was quite delicious.  It wasn't overly sweet either, in fact you could almost consider it "good for you"!  The only thing I might change for next time would be to maybe increase the amount of cinnamon to make it a bit more spicy.  I could have dusted it with icing sugar or even given it a drizzle of icing but leaving it plain as it came out of the oven seemed just right for its wholesome appearance and flavour.  Definitely a cake I will be making again.  


As it turns out, I am not all that thrilled with the Rachel Allen book.  A glance through it didn't inspire me to make anything in particular so it may well end up back at the charity shop!


175g wholemeal self raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
175g soft margarine or butter (I used Anchor Spreadable)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g chopped mixed nuts
1 cooking apple of about 250g, peeled, cored and diced
1 tblsp demerara sugar 


Preheat the oven to 170 C / 150 fan / gas mk 3.  Butter a 2lb (900g) loaf tin, 20cm round tin or a small Bundt tin.  

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time with a little of the measured flour.

Mix the spice and baking powder with the flour and fold into the mixture.  Finally add the chopped apple and the nuts and mix well to combine.  Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the top and, if using a loaf tin or round tin, sprinkle the demerara sugar on top (omit with the Bundt tin as the top becomes the bottom).  Give the tin a few sharp taps on the worktop to settle the mixture and avoid any air bubbles.

Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour until done.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.


  1. I had that book - it has just gone into a charity shop box this afternoon. Now I need to find a CS which will take my big box of books. It does seem that everyone has had a clear out during lockdown - and those of us doing genuine house clearances/retirement downsizing are struggling to pass things on!! Our local CS now ask you to [a] say in advance what you are donating, and [b] take the appointment time they give you for a drop off. And many are refusing books round here

    1. Angela, luckily all of our local charity shops (we have five in this small town) are now accepting all kinds of donations. People from the Hospice shop have been to the house and taken the large items of furniture that they wanted and a "tools for Africa" charity has been and raided the shed. So, bit by bit we are re-homing all of the things my dad doesn't need and hopefully very little will end up at the tip. That's a very satisfying thought.

  2. When you return the book are you going to insert the recipe?

    1. I hadn't thought of that but now you mention it, I think I will, with a note saying how good it is!

  3. Nut cakes and apple cakes are always going to entice me to eat more than is good for me and so one that has both is just perfect. I've NEVER found a hand-written recipe in all my years of buying pre-loved books. How do you do it? I made an appointment for Christmas Eve to drop stuff off at a local charity shop but then we went into tier 4 and everything shut again. I'm getting into the cupboard with the charity shop bags and a bottle of gin and I think I'll surface some time in 2021.

    1. Phil, I do look at (and buy) an awful lot of secondhand cook books so the supply of inserts is probably in proportion! I feel inclined to join you in hiding in a cupboard until around February when we might be nearer the top of the waiting list for the vaccine. Or probably under the sofa, as all the cupboards are full of cake tins, ingredients or cook books!
      Happy (as you can make it) Christmas to you and yours!!