Spelt Apple Cake (dairy-free)

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It occurred to me to try spelt flour in a cake when I came across a bakery in St Albans, Hertfordshire,  selling a huge range of baked products using spelt flour.  The other reason was because I have English white spelt flour in the cupboard that is pretty poor quality for bread (I had bought it for bread) and wanted to use it up.  I’ve made a spelt cake twice now both times just exchanging normal flour for white spelt and it comes out a treat, I’ve noticed it produces a really soft crumb cake.  Those proteins which are in such bad balance for bread making seem to be perfect for producing a lovely soft texture cake…yay!  I have use for the bags of flour in my cupboard.

Spelt flour is so much more expensive than normal flour and for that reason I can’t see people wanting to try it unless you have a dietary reason. But if you do use it unlike many other substitute ingredients for dietary reasons, say, having to replace dairy-free margarine for butter, spelt flour is not an inferior product, it’s very good indeed, producing a slightly softer texture than my normal plain flour.  Taste wise I could not detect any differences, but you’re adding sugar, vanilla, eggs and so on, not surprising.  I had a slight concern with the taste of the raw batter because there was a bitter aftertaste but that went away once cooked.  It tastes like any normal cake.

Why Spelt is Different

I’ve written on another bread post about why spelt is different from common wheat, (common wheat is the flour used for bread and cake) but if you haven’t read it I’ll point out the reason spelt is different is because of the genetics from its lineage.  In the evolution of wheat, spelt has comes down its own path and for that reason it’s genetically different from common wheat.  This is why some people with mild intolerances to common wheat might be able to tolerate spelt.  However, not to be confused with gluten-free flour, spelt has gluten.  I’ve seen baker’s websites advertising spelt products as gluten-free, it’s only gluten-free if they’re using spelt flour which the gluten has been removed, such as the normal flour you can now buy in supermarkets that is gluten-free.

Many Apple Cakes

There has been a lot of discussion with twitter friends on apple cakes, mainly because of glut from apples trees, and Monica has just posted a recipe for a Polish Apple Cake here, using a recipe from another friend  Carla, original is here on her facebook page.  To add another apple cake to the mix here’s one from Joanna, which happens to have one of my favourite combination of cake & crumble on top.  I should do a oil & apple cake too, and the Danish apple cake which is also lovely.

The two cakes I made with the spelt flour are a basic all-in-one sponge recipe.  I used dairy-free margarine instead of butter because of my oldest daughter and I.  The first cake I made, photo of the slices below, I used muscovado sugar instead of the regular white sugar and it produces a lovely texture in a cake, even with normal flour, I would urge you to try it.  It was this Apple & Brown sugar cake recipe I made some time back, something about muscovado sugar and cake, creates what I can only describe as a “fluffier” texture and it’s the same when I used it in a chocolate brownie recipe here.  Apart from the texture it creates, its taste for me goes so well with apples or pears in a cake, there’s a hint of fudginess.

Tips on Dairy-Free Margarine

If you’re using a dairy-free margarine the cake will be runnier than if using butter and for that reason you’ll notice on adding bits of apple such as I did above and below, lots of it will end up sinking to the bottom.  Dairy-free margarine will contain more water than butter making the mixture runnier.  I don’t mind my apples sinking but if you do then cut back on the amount of margarine and have the mixture thicker.

On the cake with the slices of apple decorating the top of it, very top photo, instead of cubing little pieces of apple for the mixture I grated the apple and held back a little of the margarine about 25grms, and it was a bit more successful.  But, I missed having little pieces of apple in the cake as the grated apple disappeared too much into the mixture like carrot in carrot cake does.  I like having the tiny chunks of apple wetness in the crumb, but this is personal.  As I type I wonder if I sliced apples instead of cubing, whether they would be suspended in the mixture better?  I think maybe they would.

Caramel Apples

Last month I made 2 apples cakes for my friend Emily, and I topped the cake with cramelised apples which is what you see below, as well as adding apples to the mixture.  Very simple.  Peel and half apples and put them in lemon juice to stop discolouring but very very importantly it will also stop the sugar hardening when cool or crystalising.  Lemon juice inverts the sugar syrup.  Don’t cook the apples much since you’re baking them later in the cake, just give them a minute on either side to colour.

Line your cake tin with baking paper, cut side down place tightly the apples on it.  Spoon your cake mixture on top.

To make the caramel you can make it 2 ways, just by heating up sugar (2 cups white sugar)  in a pan slowly at first until sugar dissolved like here in this post.  The other way is to make it like my mother did and add 3 tablespoons of water to it in the beginning, it will take longer to come up to caramel but I find it a bit easier to deal with once it’s the right colour.

Quick Spelt Apple Cake

For the Cake

  • 225g  •  1 cup,  white spelt (or normal plain flour)
  • 225g  •  1 cup plus 1 tablespoon, sugar  (or light muscovado sugar)
  • 225g  •  2 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 10ml  • 2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Fine rind of 1 small lemon
For the Apples
  • 2 large apples, peeled cubed or grated or sliced (toss in the lemon juice)
  • 2 large apples to decorate if wished, thinly sliced (toss in the lemon juice)
  • juice of the lemon to stop apples discolouring
(If making the caramel apple topping, I used 9 small apples)
23cm (9″ inch) cake tin.  Pre-heat oven to  175C fan/ 190C / 375F / gas 5.
Baking paper for the bottom of tin.  If you want the side of the cake less browned then put baking paper on the sides as well.  Otherwise I just brush the sides with butter and follow by dusting with flour.
  1. Whisk all the ingredients for the cake for about 2 minutes until everything is smooth.  
  2. Fold in the 2 apples that have been cut and pour mixture into the prepare cake tin.  Decorate with the slices of apple.  
  3. Bake for 45-50mins, but check after 40 mins.  Place a cocktail stick in the middle and if it comes out clean it’s baked.
  4. Cool in tin for 10 mins and then turn it out on to rack to cool completely.