The Dorset Apple Crumble Cake.

It may be the original. But is it still the greatest?

A couple of months ago, I wrote about Granny Hog’s Top Ten Puddings – and in at number eight was her Dorset Apple Cake, made from the Upwey Wishing Well Tea Rooms recipe. As sponge cakes go, it may well be my favourite: not only for its juicy apple chunks, but also for its crunchy crumble topping.

Sadly, until last weekend, it had been a long while since I’d had it. But on Saturday, as the Family Hog drove towards the seaside town of Weymouth, I was finally presented with a chance to retry the original – on location at the Tea Rooms themselves.

Size-wise, it certainly did not disappoint. For a mere two-hundred-and-fifty pennies (or £2.50 in modern parlance) I was given a slice so large it took me longer to eat than the soup and roll that preceded it (though the tiny dessert fork that came with it might have had something to do with slowing me up…).

Rather disappointingly – and to my surprise – it wasn’t quite as tasty as I remembered. Perhaps it was because I had the slice at room temperature – and without a side serving of cream.

However, while the topping was moist, crunchy, and sweet (as cake toppings usually are) the vast amount of apple-less sponge at the bottom was rather a chore to get through. And when cake turns into a chore, you know you’re in trouble.

Another explanation for my lack of rampant enthusiasm might also have been related to what else was on the table. You see, I wasn’t the only Hog to have pudding…

Distractions! Eek!

Also in the vicinity were a cream-covered Chocolate Sundae, and a slice of home-made Millionaire’s Shortbread.

Now, I wasn’t too bothered about the Sundae (though Granny Hog seemed to enjoy it), but the Millionaire’s Shortbread… *SIGH*

It may not have looked as impressive as my giant slice of cake, but my taste buds ranked it up there with the best of them. A sizeable layer of real milk chocolate, a stupendous centre of thick, soft caramel, and a shortbread base so perfect that the world slowed down as I ate it: crisp, fresh, buttery, and very slightly chewy.

Rarely are Millionaire’s Shortbreads so divine (this is just what I meant when I moaned about all the bad ones) and, needless to say, my Apple Cake paled in comparison…

But wait – there’s a twist in the tale!

For, having spent so long without Apple Cake in my life, on Sunday (the very next day after Tea Room Time) Granny Hog made her own version from scratch.

Two Apple Cakes in one weekend? Oh, go on then.

Instead of following the Upwey recipe, this time Granny Hog went rogue, and created it using her decades of baking knowledge. As a result, when I asked how she’d done it, she couldn’t give me the weights or details (it was only a bish-bash-bosh job).

As far as I can gather, the process was relatively simple: she knocked a bowl of sponge mix, added plenty of sliced apple (though whether that apple was Cooking or Eating, alas, I cannot say).

When the sponge mix was in the tin, she knocked up some crumble with butter and sugar, spread it out over the top, and kept it in the oven until it was all cooked through.

Even though I distracted her while it was baking – so it came with a few burnt patches here and there – the final result was GLORIOUS. I ate it warm, of course, and had it fresh as it could be.

Days later it still bested the Upwey version.

Now, being the scrupulous Ogglers that you are, I’m sure you’ll be keen to learn why Granny won out. Well, I’ve had a good ponder and cracked it. Firstly, she used much more apple than Upwey (never a bad thing). Secondly, the tin she baked it in was shallower.

Combined, this made for a moister cake, with the goodness spread right the way through – not merely confined to the top.

The fact that she’s a Baking Wizard may well have helped matters too.

If only that woman would write down her spells.

The Pud World could do with more magic…


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