Apple Sultana and Almond Cake or Squares

Apple sultana bread, based on almond meal, was one of the first recipes I created for this blog. There are two versions of the recipe and both are either tricky to bake, or need specially prepared ingredients, such as concentrated apple puree. Having all the experience I gained in grain and dairy free baking over several years and an opportunity to use glucose powder as dry sweetener, it was time to create simple and reliable recipe from available, ready to use, ingredients and no fuss baking. However, I wanted to explore the role of baking soda in egg, fruit puree and almond meal batters. I baked one cake in a shape of bread loaf without baking soda, but using separated eggs,

and a tray bake version of the recipe, with added baking soda to the batter, based on whole eggs whisked with glucose powder.

The only difference in these two bakes was in cake appearance. Using baking soda gave tray bake deep brown reddish colour, the red overtone brought up by cinnamon powder in the recipe. If you don’t mind to spend a little more time and make the batter with separated eggs, you can produce cake or slice lighter in colour, but with the cake taste. As expected tray bake needs less time for baking as well. Any icing can be used over both bakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs (separated for loaf recipe, whole in tray bake recipe)
  • 100g glucose (dextrose) powder, can be substituted by regular/caster sugar for those who tolerates it
  • 150g commercial apple puree (I used cooked apple pie filling, blended)
  • 160g almond meal
  • 10g psyllium husks, ground
  • 10g cinnamon powder
  • 5g ginger powder
  • 150g sultanas, I used organic
  • 5g baking soda only for tray bake recipe

optional

  • coconut oil for the pan
  • almonds, sliced, slivered or crushed for decoration

Preparation:

I use sultanas in many baking recipes, including festive Christmas cakes. The way sultanas are soaked and dried in preparation to be added to batter, determines now plump they are going to be in the cake and how evenly they will be spread in baked cake. I used many different approaches to prepare dry, or not so dry sultanas, and finally came to the best one in my opinion. This approach achieved 3 goals simultaneously:

  1. it washes out all the impurities from the surface of sultanas, with particularly nasty ones, such as grain particles or dust, if they are packaged on the same equipment as gluten containing grains
  2. it also washes away any micro-flora that gets on dried fruits sold by weight from open containers
  3. sultanas take enough moisture to be re-hydrated, but there is no extra liquid that needs special drying after soaking

soaking sultanas

  • use glass bowl
  • cover sultanas with boiling water, stir, drain water
  • cover sultanas with boiling water for the second time, let them rest in water for 10 minutes
  • drain water, shake the excess off
  • return sultanas to a bowl
  • cover the bowl with glad wrap, leave it to rest overnight
  • turn the bowl upside down 2-3 time in the process
  • by the morning sultanas will be plump without excess moisture on their surface

Step by step photos present loaf cake preparation with the batter based on separated eggs.

tray bake

  • grease baking tray with coconut oil, or line it with baking paper
  • mix dry ingredients in a wide bowl, almond meal, psyllium powder, cinnamon powder, ginger powder, baking soda, if necessary put the mixture through a sieve
  • whisk eggs with glucose powder for 4-6 minutes, time depends on the mixer you use
  • add apple puree, whisk for another 2 minutes
  • add dry ingredients to wet, mix them with a whisk
  • add sultanas, combine them with batter, use spatula
  • transfer the batter into a tray, level the surface
  • preheat oven to 170C  (no fan), reduce temperature to 160C, bake 40-45 minutes
  • let the bake rest in the tray for 5 minutes, turn in over to a wire rack, lined with baking paper
  • if you want the crust be especially dry, return the rack to still warm oven to rest and cool down

loaf cake preparation

  • grease baking tray with coconut oil, or insert cake paper liner
  • mix all dry ingredients, except glucose powder, in a wide bowl, set the bowl aside
  • separate eggs
  • divide glucose powder in 2 portions 60g and 40g
  • use larger portion for egg whites, smaller one for egg yolks
  • beat egg whites to soft peaks
  • add glucose powder in 3-4 goes, with continuing whisking
  • when egg whites reach hard peaks and look glossy set the bowl aside

  • add glucose powder to egg yolks, combine them together
  • beat the mixture until pale and double in volume
  • add apple puree
  • whisk for 2-3 more minutes

  • add dry ingredients in two batches
  • mix them in with spatula
  • at this stage the batter resembles soft paste

  • add one large serving spoon of egg whites
  • mix them in to make the batter softer
  • add the rest of egg whites
  • gently incorporate them into the batter

  • add sultanas, mix them in with spatula, make sure they are spread evenly in the batter
  • transfer the batter into a loaf tin
  • work with spatula or palette knife to level the surface of the batter
  • use sliced, slivered  or chopped almonds for decoration
  • preheat oven to 170C  (no fan), reduce temperature to 160C, bake 55-65 minutes
  • let the bake rest in the tin for 5 minutes (if using coconut oil for greasing), turn in over twice to a wire rack lined with baking paper
  • if using paper liners, take the cake out of the tin, wait for 2-3 minutes, carefully separate paper from the sides of the cake and let the cake rest on a wire rack
  • if you want cake crust to be dry, without condensed moisture, return the rack to still warm oven for the cake to rest and cool down

The cake was a gift, I do not have any photos of the cut cake. However, the cake inside has the same lighter look, compared to tray bake slices, when baking soda was used. Overall, the texture of the cake baked from separated eggs batter, was the same as in tray bake from whole eggs and baking soda batter.

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