APPLE HAZELNUT CAKE

By now you may have worked it out that I have a thing for simple cakes! I rarely make a cake that requires my stand mixer and perhaps make cakes that require butter even less (I never seem to have 'soft butter' at the ready)!! So here we are again, another simple, yet lovely cake which I hope you will love and work into you repertoire. It is a little fancier than this cake, but not by much! The apples could be easily substituted with pears or even stone fruit as the weather (hopefully) warms up here in Melbourne!

MAKES 1 CAKE - 20CM 

150g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

3 eggs

1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped and pod reserved for another use*

200ml milk

200ml olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

250g self raising flour

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

*I either put the left over vanilla pods in sugar to make vanilla sugar or a small jar of rum for homemade vanilla essence. 

FOR THE TOPPING

70g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

50g unsalted butter

50g caster sugar

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20cm round baking tin. 

2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar together with the lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar until the mixture becomes damp and fragrant. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Now add the milk, olive oil and lemon juice and again, whisk thoroughly. 

3. Sift over the flour and whisk or stir until it is just smooth and there are no lumps. Stir in the apple and spoon batter into the prepared tin. 

4. For the topping, mix the hazelnuts, butter and sugar together in a small bowl until soft and combined. I use my hands for this! Set aside.

5. Arrange the apples on the cake. To achieve the same result as mine, I cut the apples in half and sliced each half very finely, trying to keep them in their halves. This creates a beautiful effect, but arranged in another manner is more than lovely too. Press the apple in slightly and then crumble the hazelnut topping over the cake in the gaps and over the apple. 

6. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when tested. Cool slightly then remove from tin to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.