If you’ve ever been to Melbourne and you haven’t been to Burch and Purchese, you’ve been wasting your life. It’s the closest thing to a Wonka-wonderland that we’ve got, and it’s utter magic.
Darren’s first book covered all his patisserie’s signature cakes and general fancies. It’s a thing of great beauty, but perhaps not the most practical thing to work from. His second (and brand new release) is a much more everyday kind of thing, with the perfect kind of bakes for afternoon teas, through to some more professional (but not impossible) looking desserts that would impress the pants off your next dinner party. And if you get a little stuck, there are some pretty handy how-to and troubleshooting sections to get you through. The book hit my desk last week and it it’s just beautiful. I haven’t been inspired by a book in a while, but this is something that deserves space on your shelf.
This was the first thing that spoke to me when I opened the book. The recipe belongs to his wife, Cath, who had it given to her by her mother. Darren calls this a cake, except what holds together a dozen apples is pastry, but not a proper pastry. The spices elevate the whole thing, and it’s not overly sweet. Kind of imagine a pot pie, but with apples. I don’t entirely understand what’s happening here, all I can tell you it is thoroughly fucking delicious.
I made this over the recent long weekend, while all my friends were gallivanting in the South West – Pemberton, Margaret River. The apples I used are a mix of green and red, which prevents the cake from being too sweet. Plus, they all came from WA’s Southern Forests region, so while I couldn’t be there, I could still enjoy their magnificent produce. They don’t pay me to say that, it’s honestly the best food you’ll ever eat, I promise!
Spiced Apple Cake
From Lamingtons and Lemon Tarts by Darren Purchese
120g unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
pinch of salt
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
12 apples, peeled and cored
1 vanilla bean
finely grated zest and juice of a lemon
150g caster sugar
1 egg whisked
Extra caster sugar, to sprinkle
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream together the sugar, butter, and salt. Add the egg, beat to combine, then add the spices and flour. Mix gently until there are no floury bits. Wrap the dough in cling film, and stick in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Cut the peeled and cored apples into quarters, and then each quarter into four pieces. Place the apple pieces in a pot with the sugar, juice, and zest and vanilla bean and pod, then place the pot over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft, but still holding shape. Remove from heat and leave to cool completely. Remove and discard the vanilla pod.
Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius, and grease a springform cake tin.Take two-thirds of the pastry, and roll it into a circle that’s about 5mm thick. If it’s too soft, place it in the fridge to chill and firm up a bit. Press it into the cake tin and up the sides, and leave just a little overhanging the edge. It’s a super forgiving pastry, so don’t worry if it tears, just smush it back together or patch it with some extra pastry.
Pack the apple into the pastry as firmly as you can. Roll out the remaining dough into a pie lid, place over the apple, then fold the overhang and smoosh to seal. Brush with the whisked egg, then sprinkle sugar over the top. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before carefully releasing the springform tin. Serve with a thick custard. It’s delicious both hot and cold. Or eaten straight from the pan eight hours later. Because that happened. Seriously.