Bill Granger, the gorgeous guy of Australia's celebrity chef circuit (OK, he shares that title with Curtis Stone), has released a new cookbook evocatively entitled Feed Me Now! Bill says that this new book is designed to put forward quick meal ideas to help people (including himself!) to juggle their family-work balance. He urges readers to make mealtimes with family and friends a priority, and an experience that can be enjoyed. I love the sentiment, but it is not helpful to me when I live in a household of one with busy friends leading busy lives with their own families. However, one thing that I can take from Bill's philosophies is that food should be for pleasure, not just sustenance. Perhaps this is the greatest thing that I have learned since first taking an active interest in cooking, which I will attribute to the sparky young Jamie Oliver, whose early "fun and friends" cooking shows inspired me to want to live that dream myself.
Funnily enough, the first thing that I have made out of Feed Me Now! is not a meal at all, but rather, Bill's recipe for an apple fruit cake (p67). There is no picture of the finished recipe in the book, so I was kind of intrigued by what the finished product would look like. I also had all of the ingredients on hand (or thought I did until I found out that weevils had hitchhiked from Melbourne in my walnuts), which made me decide to give this cake a burl.
The result was a rather pleasing looking cake with a rustic "tea at Gran's" appeal, which is satisfyingly filling to eat. However, I initially found it the teensiest bit on the dry side - perhaps this was because my apples were on the small side, so there was not as much fruit as Bill originally intended to moisten the cake, or it may have been my choice of apple variety (Royal Gala, being a cross between Delicious and Cox's Orange Pippin). However, the next day, this cake had really come into its own, and was moist and flavoursome, with a lovely brown sugar crackly crust. Accordingly, that's my tip for this cake - leave it for a day to allow the flavours and moistness to develop before cutting it.
To make this cake, you will need:
3 tablespoons warm tea
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teasppoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
180g brown sugar
60g white sugar
250g softened butter (shock horror, I used margarine to cut down on saturated fat)
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
85g chopped nuts (Bill used walnuts, I used macadamias due to the unfortunate demise of my walnuts)
2 teaspoons grated ginger (I used one teaspoon of ground ginger instead)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Leave the raisins to soak in the tea while you make the rest of the cake.
Grease and flour a 25cm bundt pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt together into a stand mixer bowl, and add the sugars, eggs, butter and vanilla. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, beat the mixture, starting on low speed until the ingredients are just combined then increasing the speed, until the batter is light and smooth.
Drain the raisins. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and using a rubber spatula, stir the apples, nuts, fresh ginger (if using) and raisins into the mixture. Place the batter into the prepared bundt tin and smooth the top.
Place the cake in the preheated oven to bake for approximately one hour or until cooked through. Bill recommends using a foil tent over the top of the cake if it browns too quickly.
Remove the baked cake from the oven, and leave it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before unmoulding it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with sifted icing sugar. Enjoy!