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Spiced Apple Muffin Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping

I have included this because I still get letters from people saying they can't make muffins. My message to them is don't try too hard – undermixing is the golden rule and, once mastered, the American muffin mix makes the lightest cakes in the world. In the summer, you could always substitute the apples for 12 oz (350 g) of fresh apricots, stoned and chopped, or, in the autumn, 12 oz (350 g) of plums, stoned and chopped. In both cases, though, weigh after stoning.


This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One.


First of all place the butter in a small saucepan and put it on a gentle heat to melt. Then, as with all muffin mixtures, you need to sift the dry ingredients twice, so place the flour, all the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and grated nutmeg in a sieve and sieve them into a bowl.

Then, in another large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and milk together, pour the melted butter into the egg mixture and give it all another good whisk. Now sift the flour mixture again straight in on top of the egg mixture and fold it in using as few folds as possible. Ignore the horrible lumpy mixture you're now faced with and don't be tempted to overmix. I think this is where people go wrong: they can't believe that what looks like a disaster can possibly turn into something so light and luscious.

Now fold in the chopped apple and then spoon the whole lot into the tin, levelling off the surface. Next, make the topping, and you can use the same bowl. Just add the flour, sugar and cinnamon and rub the butter in with your fingertips until crumbly.

Finally, sprinkle in the nuts and 1 tablespoon cold water, then press the mixture loosely together. Again, it will be quite lumpy – no problem! Now spoon the topping over the surface of the cake, then bake on the centre shelf of the oven for about 1¼ hours, until it feels springy in the centre.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before removing the sides, then gently slide a palette knife under the base and transfer the cake to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve this as fresh as possible, either on its own or warm as a dessert with whipped cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.


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