November is without a doubt my favourite time of year. I've never been a summer kind of girl - I love the cold winter nights wrapped up in cosy jumpers and snug slipper socks, with a nice cup of hot choclate (of course with marshmallows & whipped cream) by the fire. It's also a time of year for comfort food and forgetting the whole 'summer body' idea, and enjoying those yummy treats untill those dreaded 'new years resolutions'.
Now I am so excited for bonfire night or rather 'week' this year, as i love the fireworks, bonfires, toffe apples and bonfire toffee associated with bonfire night. But I'm even more excited because my sister is having a bonfire themed birthday bbq with lots of yummy foods and our new favourite recipe we made for our family, which went down like a treat!
My sister is an incredible baker, she was always baking with my mum when we were younger and I was always the lucky taster and spoon licker. We wanted to find the perfect recipe for her party so got googling and pinteresting 'bonfire recipe ideas'.
The only phrase I can think of to describe this is 'toffee heaven' and even that doesn't do it justice. You make the cake batter, place finely sliced red apples over the top of the batter. When the cakes cooks, the apples cook too but keep their lovely shape and colour when baked, then my favourite bit - you drizzle it with toffee sauce by melting toffees in a pan with a splash of milk or, do as me and my sister did, and buy one!
Me and my sister have never been a fan of spice, but Ren Behan's idea of changing 'mixed spice' to cinamon was just right! Cinamon and apple go together like butter on toast! The whole family loved it and the cake went within a day with no crumbs left over. So it was without a doubt that we would be making another one for her party.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with baking parchment. Put the dates and milk in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 mins to cool.
Whizz the date mixture to a smooth purée in a food processor or blender, then scrape into a large mixing bowl. Tip in the butter, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, eggs, mixed spice and vanilla, and set aside while you prepare the apples.
Quarter and core the apples, then slice quite thinly, tossing in a little lemon juice as you go. Quickly beat together the cake ingredients with an electric whisk until smooth, then scrape into the baking tray. Arrange the apple slices, overlapping in rows, on top of the cake – you should be able to get 3 rows lengthways down the tray. Bake for 45-50 mins until a skewer poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tray.
Put the toffees in a small pan with a good splash of milk and gently melt, stirring, until runny. To finish, dust with a little icing sugar, then drizzle sauce all over the cake. Cut into squares or slices to serve.