Tart, sweet and a winner at parties
Serves 8
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Made with little more than apples and a touch of spice, the long slow-cooking concentrates the apple taste for a treat at once sweet, tart and luscious.


  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ⅔ cup (150 g) caster sugar
  • ½ cup (125 ml) apple juice
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 80 g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 10 large green apples (2 kg)
  • 2 tsps golden syrup, warmed


  • 1 vanilla bean
  • ½ cup (125 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (250 ml) thickened cream
  • ¼ cup (90 g) golden syrup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • ½ cup (120 g) mascarpone

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 20 cm springform pan; line base with baking paper. Place pan on a baking-paper-lined shallow oven tray.


Split vanilla bean in half; remove seeds. Place seeds and bean in a medium saucepan with cinnamon, sugar, juices and butter; stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil; simmer for 5 mins until reduced slightly. Transfer to a large bowl.


Working with two apples at a time, peel and core eight of the apples; using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut apples into 3 mm slices. Add sliced apple to syrup in bowl; toss to coat in syrup (this prevents the apple from discolouring). Remove apple slices from syrup with a slotted spoon. Arrange slices in springform pan, overlapping each slice by half. Cover the centre with smaller slices to create a tight fit. Press firmly on apples twice during layering, pouring any excess liquid back into the bowl.


Peel remaining apples leaving stems intact. Using a mandoline, cut apples lengthways, including through core; remove seeds. Coat slices lightly in remaining syrup. Arrange overlapping slices in pan. Cover pan with baking paper, then with foil.


Bake apple cake for 1 hr; remove foil and baking paper. Reduce oven to 140 C; bake a further 1 hr or until apple is soft and a knife can easily be inserted into the layers, brushing occasionally with some of the remaining cooking liquid. Cool to room temperature.


Cover surface of apple cake with baking paper; cover pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hrs or until cold and firm.


Meanwhile, make golden syrup custard. Split vanilla bean in half; remove seeds. Add seeds and bean to a medium saucepan with milk and cream; stir over medium heat until almost boiling. Remove from heat; stir in golden syrup. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium heatproof bowl; gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return to pan; stir over low heat for 3 mins or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain custard into a bowl; cover surface with plastic wrap. Cool. Whisk mascarpone in a medium bowl until smooth; gradually whisk in custard.


To serve, run a knife around the apple cake and a hot cloth around the outside of the pan. Remove ring. Slide the base of a round tart pan under the cake; transfer it carefully onto a serving plate, removing the tart pan base as you place it on the plate. Stand cake at room temperature for 1 hr . Brush top with golden syrup; serve with golden syrup custard.

TIP It is best to use a serrated knife to cut this cake. Made from little more than apples and a touch of spice, the long slow-cooking concentrates the apple taste. Serve as a dessert cake, perfect for guests with intolerances to wheat or gluten. The cake and custard can be made a day ahead; keep covered, in the fridge.

Photo: bauersyndication.com.au

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