My first attempt at one of one the recipes from Hannah Miles’ ‘Naked Cakes’!
Cake decorating is serious business for me, and I try to make the special occasion cakes I bake as pretty as possible. For a while now though I’ve wanted to cut down on the amount of frosting/cream I use for cakes just because my family isn’t too big on it.
It appears that the Jesus of Baking decided to answer my prayers by directing me to Hannah Miles’ incredibly beautiful recipe book “Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning Cakes”. In her book, Miles demonstrates lots of her cake creations that essentially show off the sponge and interior of the cake, largely free of it being camouflaged in cream or frosting; hence the title, ‘naked cakes’. I decided to try making one of her cakes for dad’s (early) birthday! This cake was really easy to make (no hiccups or disasters YEEES!!) and I really liked how it turned out.
This recipe from Miles’ book is originally titled ‘Blackberry and Apple Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream’. I didn’t really make any drastic changes to the original recipe apart from reducing the amount of buttercream made and making the cake 3 layers instead of 4. A focus of Hannah’s book is using very lovely edible flowers as decoration for the cakes, so definitely give that a try if you’d like! 🙂
As I only had 2x 23cm springform pans, I ended up filling up the pans at a 1:2 ratio of cake batter. This meant that I had to cut one of the cakes in half to give myself three layers.
I absolutely loved the cinnamon buttercream! Everyone knows how good cinnamon and apple go together and unsurprisingly, the combination is also real winner in this cake. One thing to avoid if possible is putting this buttercream in the fridge; it becomes quite stiff once it comes in contact with the cold of a fridge, so either make the cream just before you assemble and serve, or if you want to make this cream in advance, you can whisk 3-4 tablespoons of milk into the cream to soften it up again before you use it.
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Berry and Apple Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream
Adapted from: Hannah Miles’ “Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning”
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1-2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and grated
- Berries to decorate
For 5-egg Cake Batter (From: Hannah Miles’ “Naked Cakes: Simply Stunning“)
- 250g/2½ sticks butter, room temperature
- 250g/2½ cups caster sugar/granulated white sugar
- 5 eggs
- 280g/generous 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2½ tablespoons buttermilk, sour cream or plain milk
For the Apple Purée
- 3 dessert apples
- 35g/scant ¼ cup caster sugar
- 15g/1 tablespoon butter
- 50ml water
For the Buttercream
- 300g/3 cups icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 75g/5 tablespoons butter, softened
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3-4 tablespoons milk (if needed, to soften cream)
- Begin by preparing the apple purée, as it needs to completely cool before being used. Peel, core and chop the apples into small pieces. Place in a saucepan with sugar and water and simmer over low heat until the apple is very soft. Add butter to pan, stir until melted before setting saucepan aside to cool.
- Line 2 x 23cm/ 9 inch round springform pans and preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).**
- Use an electric whisk to mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs in one at a time whisking well before adding in another. Using a spatula, fold in flour, baking powder and buttermilk until incorporated.
- Gently squeeze out excess juice if the grated apples have too much water content before folding them in with ground cinnamon into the cake batter.
- Divide the cake into the prepared pans at a 1:2 ratio. That is, double the amount of mixture in one pan only. You will be cutting the bigger cake in half once it has cooled to give yourself three layers.** Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and spring back to the touch when gently pressed. A wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in pan for a few minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely.
- For the buttercream, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, butter and sugar until the icing is thick and creamy and holds stiff peaks. Add a little milk to the icing if the mixture is too stiff.
- To assemble, use a large serrated knife to cut the larger cake into 2 even halves. Place the layer on a serving board/cake stand and cover with a third of the buttercream and half the apple purée. Top with another layer and repeat. Spread the remaining buttercream onto the top of the cake and decorate the cake with berries, or whatever you desire. This cake is best served immediately. Avoid putting this cake into the fridge if possible, as the cold will harden the buttercream.
** If you have 3 x 23 cm pans, simply evenly divide the mixture into each. If you only have one pan, that’s ok! Just remember to reline the cake pan every time you refill the pan with more cake batter.