Norwegian apple cake, eplekake, is a lovely buttery sponge base topped with apple slices. Perfect served warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Eat the seasons
Seasonality is nature’s way of telling you what to eat throughout the year. You won’t get bored of one particular produce if it is only available for a spell of time.
How much lovelier are first English strawberries ripening in May than the fruit imported with a horrendous carbon footprint in the middle of winter? Asparagus is so gorgeous because you never get enough in its short season – before you know it, it gets spindly and reedy which means it’s coming to an end.
And game, apart from being the most humanely sourced meat, smells and tastes of autumn forests and bonfires.
Bake the seasons
I love the fact that you can measure the passage of time in the year by seasonal foods. Even in baking, which you would not normally think of as very seasonal, there is a right time for all kinds of cakes.
Winter (Christmas aside!) makes you bake caked filled with dried fruit, nuts and jams. Spiced cakes, yeasted buns, rich and comforting ginger cakes, and of course lots of chocolate.
Spring brings a lighter pastry selection and desserts with forced rhubarb, refreshing lemon and lots of meringues. Cheesecakes, pavlovas and muffins are my spring favourites.
Then throughout the summer we can gorge ourselves and fill our cakes with berries and stone fruit. From strawberries through to plums, I bake my crumble cakes and buttery sponges with what’s best and cheapest in the weekly fruit market. And if it’s too hot to bake, I make berry ice cream and frozen yoghurts.
And then comes autumn: the time for apple cakes, apple pies, apple strudels and apple tarts.
What apples are best for baking?
There is a distinction in the UK, which I don’t think exists elsewhere, of apples into cooking and eating. Bramleys are the variety traditionally used in baking but I honestly think the division is superficial.
Perhaps indeed Bramleys are not as nice as other types of apples to sink your teeth in, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use so called ‘eating’ varieties for baking, if they come cheap enough.
This time I used Russets in my cake but Cox and Granny Smith are lovely too. The best apples for cake should be tart and not very hard, but otherwise it’s like with wine in cooking: pour in what you’d be happy to drink.
How to make Norwegian apple cake?
The batter is straightforward to make, though it helps if you have an electric mixer. Butter is creamed with sugar, then eggs, then it all curdles until the flour comes in – standard stuff.
But the key thing, once the batter is smoothly spread over the bottom of a large cake tin or a tart dish, is to pack as many apple slices as you can. They mysteriously shrink and shrivel whilst baking.
And the topping is – well, it’s the topping on the cake! Brown sugar, almond flakes, more cinnamon than you’d think appropriate and dots of cold butter turn into a lovely coating over the apples. I promise it is a testing wait for the cake to cool down!
Serve it with ice cream, clotted cream, crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt – the latter two my personal preference.
Recipe by Nevada Berg and Florence Fabricant of New York Times Cooking, but I cross-checked its credentials with authentic Norwegian ones. Verified successfully!
More apple cake recipes
The simplest, genius cake of its kind: mix and bake, no mixer needed – brown apple cake.
And the old-fashioned apple cake is pretty easy too, plus it has the brown sugar frosting which is to die for.
We could not possibly forget about the ultimate classic from North America: gorgeous apple pie!
More Norwegian recipes
They know how to bake in Norway, that’s for sure! Boller are raisin buns with cardamom flavour and a shiny glaze. Delicious!
For your next Christmas bake, try julekake. That Scandinavian relative of panettone is ten times easier and almost as tasty.