Cuisine Fiend

brown apple cake


Brown apple cake

Do you know what brawn is? I bet not. You never know, it might become trendy again on the wave of eating an animal nose-to-tail, since it’s cooked and jellied pig’s head. No, me neither, and I’ve eaten amazingly weird stuff in my time.

It’s also known as head cheese and I can see my bounce rate going sky high this minute. Popular in Central and Northern Europe, apparently also in Britain, being one of those recipes for peasant food going back to 12th century – waste not, want not. Its modern, more civilised counterpart will be country terrine – jellied or not meat pâté with coarser chunks of meat.

Where’s the cake? Where’s the cake in the story? Well – a version of it is, I believe, called ‘brawn cake’. Probably because it does resemble the meaty terriney stuff when cut, with brighter chunks of apples suspended in the dark mass. I think you’ll forgive me though if I call it a BROWN APPLE CAKE.

I’ve had the recipe for so long I can’t say where it comes from, just a printout without any heading. It must have been one of my first attempts at baking, I liked it so much (wouldn’t I just? throw everything into a bowl, stir and bake) that one year I’d bake it every week or twice a week. So much so that it once ended up with cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon. Sat next to each other in the spices cupboard, blasted things. The first mouthful went down all right actually – realisation dawned at the third bite, that shows you how good this cake is. And so easy I could manage it happily back in the days when I could hardly bake to save my life – as long as I could tell apart my cinnamon from chilli powder.

The cocoa gives it flavour but not enough to call it strictly a chocolate cake – so brown it is, with apples. It makes you think of Christmas a little with the scent of cloves and cinnamon! It’s very tasty, different than your ordinary apple cakes. Try it with pears, too.

brown apple cake

Servings: 12-16Time: about an hour and a half


  • 2-3 Bramley cooking apples
  • 70g (1/2 cup) raisins or sultanas
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 150g (1 cup) brown soft sugar
  • 260g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil

Apples and raisins


1. Peel and core the apples, then dice into pieces about 1 x 1cm. If you like them chunkier, go ahead. Throw them into a large bowl, then sprinkle or pour over all the other ingredients in the order exactly as they are listed. Leave to rest for half an hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Butter and line with parchment a large round tin (23cm). When half an hour’s passed, mix well all the ingredients in the bowl with a spatula.

Cake mix and baked apple cake

3. Pour into the tin and bake for about 40-50 minutes, checking if the inserted skewer comes out dry.

4. Cool in the tin, dust with icing sugar before serving with – recommended - a large dollop of whipped cream.

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