There’s a certain novelty to eating outdoors in the form of a picnic. The vigorous shaking out of the much-loved blanket… ours, a tartan one, made all the more nostalgic having been received as a wedding gift decades ago from English friends unable to attend our wedding. And there’s room on that blanket for three, four, five, six… is it not true that however many people there might be, enough space can always be created? Coffee slurped out carefully into cups from a thermos or two… complementing both sweet and savoury offerings, centrally placed, spilling from tins or Tupperware or preferably both… giving the freedom to eat with one’s hands!
With a little searching, I managed to find this rather cherished picnic photo to share with you, from my year living in the Hautes-Alpes of France. The decade was the 90’s… the location was a peak by the name of Col de Gleize, not far from Gap… the cheese, bread and wine were no doubt cheap, but utterly delicious all the same… and the company, of course, was fabulous! xxx
This cake, absolutely perfect for a picnic, is one that my Mum used to make, though I’ve substituted walnuts for her pecans, and slightly amended her method to avoid washing up an extra bowl… such is my keenness to minimise clean-up afterwards. It’s a cake that tastes as wonderful on the day that it’s made as the day after… and even the day after that (if there’s any still left by then!) Almost a cross between a cake and a slice (bars, for my American friends)… it’s slightly crispy on the outside, fragrantly spiced, and generously proportioned with small chunks of apple, giving both moisture and flavour… making this one a cake to be remembered.
Apple & Walnut Picnic Cake | Gather and Graze
- 225g (1½ Cups) Plain Flour
- 1½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
- Pinch Salt
- 100g (1 Cup) Walnuts (roughly chopped)
- 220g (1 Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
- 2 Apples (peeled, cored and cut into small chunks)*
- 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (melted and cooled slightly)
- 1 Large Free-Range Egg (beaten lightly)
- 1 Tbsp Icing (Powdered) Sugar (for dusting the top of the cake)
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and grease a 24cm/10in Ring or Bundt Tin.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Add the chopped walnuts and stir to combine. Set aside for the moment.
Now, in a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and chopped apple. Add the slightly cooled, melted butter and the beaten egg and stir well with a wooden spoon until somewhat silky in texture. Add the flour/nut mixture (in 2 lots) and mix until combined. At this stage, the mixture may look a little like soft cookie dough.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and a cake tester/skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin, before inverting onto a cooling rack. When the cake has reached room temperature, place on a serving plate and dust with icing sugar.
Enjoy with a delicious hot cup of tea or coffee.
I used New Season Gala Apples in this cake, which worked beautifully. Feel free to use any variety you like, though try to make sure it’s an apple that won’t disintegrate too much when cooked. Mum’s original recipe (of course) recommended the Granny Smith… the go-to cooking apple… or is it?
Interestingly, a few years ago a blogging friend of mine, Sandra (from Please Pass the Recipe) rather fabulously conducted a series of Apple Taste Tests to work out which varieties of apple would cook better than others. She took into account the likes of sweetness, moisture, texture, aftertaste and overall eating pleasure. For those interested in knowing more, her results can be found here… Part 1 (which included the Granny Smith) and Part 2 (which included the Royal Gala)