The other day I was checking my Instagram feed and I saw a friend of mine post a lovely autumn picture of orange trees lining a long road somewhere in New York. I immediately felt a bit sad, maybe just a tad jealous, mostly because I feel like I’m stuck here and she’s enjoying herself ever so much over there, living her dreams in New York’s fashion world and what-not.
Well the weather here has been sweltering and summer-like, the rays of the sun blanketing everything with a yellow reminiscent of a morning in the desert. It’s literally impossible to walk outside without squinting against the harsh sunlight and feeling it prickle against your skin. The woes of living in the tropics!
These days I find myself wishing so constantly to escape somewhere. A place where I’ve left a piece of my heart perhaps? Alas, I have no choice at the moment but to daydream and find solace in my hobbies, like baking for instance. Admittedly, it’s getting harder to make myself feel better for longer stretches of time whenever I don’t keep myself occupied.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about San Francisco. It’s been years since I went there but to this day it remains to be one of my favourite cities in the world. I haven’t yet visited a city that made me feel the same way as San Francisco did. Sometimes I take a look at some of the old photos I took from before and try to relive the feeling of being in San Francisco again.
I specifically remember the moment I got off the bus and took in the city for the first time. The good vibes just latched themselves on to me and refused to leave. That’s quite a big deal if you knew me at all, as I have a tendency to brood and think too much. Mostly it’s an exercise in rousing all the ill-feelings I have pent-up inside. I remember the feeling of peace that settled over me as I walked up and and down this hilly city, the gears of my mind suspended in a state of wonder.
It was springtime, I believe, when I went there, but I would so love to spend autumn there as well. The weather is always pleasant in that magical, beautiful city, and I can only imagine how much more pleasant it would be during autumn-time. I didn’t get a chance to explore much because we had to leave for L.A. so soon, but I promised myself I would go back. (Not to mention I absolutely need to go back to take better photos.)
The truth is a visit to San Francisco doesn’t fit into my life right now, no matter how much I try to squeeze it in– though I bet it would do wonders for my soul. Instead, here I am baking a cake/loaf/apple crumble hybrid as a way of telling myself, ‘There, there. The day will come.‘ At least this was a wonderful cake.
The soft apples between the crumble and the cake provided a nice contrast in flavour and texture, and I felt like I was literally sprinkling powdered autumn unto the apples as I assembled the loaf. The best touch though was the brown sugar custard which is poured all over the cake slices; complementing, and even elevating, the wonderful taste of this loaf cake. The best way to eat this- for me at least- was when the cake slices were warm and the custard was cold.
Apple Crumble Loaf with Brown Sugar Custard
Makes one 8x4-inch loaf; serves 8 to 10
For the Cake
- 225 grams about 1 3/4 cups self-raising flour *
- 125 grams butter, softened
- 120 grams sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the crumble
- 125 grams approximately 1 cup self raising flour *
- 90 grams sugar
- 45 grams butter
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons water, for mixing
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the custard
- 3 large egg yolks
- 75 grams about 1/3 cup if packed brown sugar **
- 300 ml about 1 1/4 cups half cream
- 150 ml about 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prepare the cake batter
- 1. Grease and line an 8x4-inch loaf tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang of about 2-inches of baking paper on the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- 2. Place sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla, beating until combined.
- 3. Reduce mixer speed to slow. Gradually add flour and milk and mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth surface with a spatula.
- 4. Layer apple slices over the top of the batter. There should be enough for two layers of sliced apples.
- 5. Mix the 1 tablespoon brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the apple slices.
Prepare the crumble
- 6. Place butter, flour, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and rub the mixture gently between the tips of your fingers to combine them, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- 7. Gradually add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time, while still combining with your fingertips until the mixture starts to form clumps of around 0.5-cm in diameter, rather than fine breadcrumbs. Adjust the amount of water as needed.
- 8. Sprinkle the crumble evenly on top of the apples, making sure to cover the top completely.
- 9. Bake the loaf in the oven for 50 to 60mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the crumble on top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool in tin. The cake is best served while still warm, and should always be heated before serving for best flavour.
While the cake cools, prepare the custard
- 10. In a medium saucepan, place milk, cream, and vanilla. Bring the mixture just to the boil. Set aside to cool for a minute.
- 11. In a medium mixing bowl, place egg yolks and sugar, and whisk until pale and sugar has dissolved. While still whisking, gradually add hot mixture to the bowl until completely combined. Whisk continuously as the hot liquid is being poured to avoid cooking the egg yolks.
- 12. Return mixture to the saucepan and place on low heat, stirring continuously to avoid cooking the eggs. Stir until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and transfer mixture to a bowl.
- 13. Cover surface of mixture with clingfilm to prevent skin from forming. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
- 14. Once the cake is only slightly warm, cut into slices and serve with custard. The cake can also be served with cold cream or ice cream.
- Storage: The cake and the custard can be stored separately in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.
** The brown sugar can be replace with 75 grams golden syrup. Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes blog
And once the cake has disappeared from my plate; the dishes cleaned and put away, I only have one thought remaining in my mind: Maybe next year, San Francisco. I hope.