I have a few memories of creative childhood cooking. The earliest is from when I was about 5, when I decided to make a soup for our tea. My 'soup' consisted of boiled water with rounds of cut carrot and celery. I was disappointed when my Mum suggested it might not be quite enough for our tea. I was also disappointed when I tasted it and the soup I imagined was not what I found in my mouth!
A consistent memory (and a tastier one) from middle childhood onward is of apple cake. My Mum did a lot of apple baking, although her products weren't normally cake. She made an apple charlotte pudding with a crumbly oat topping, and another apple crumble that was delicious in winter.
The apple cakes usually came from me. You see, early on, I 'realised' that if I took a plain vanilla cake recipe and added apples, it became a far more exciting affair.
Given I am no longer aged 10, I know that adding apple to a cake is not exactly novel. You don't need a lot of creativity to hit on the idea. Nonetheless, apple cake is still a firm favourite of mine. It still feels mildly exciting. And, sometimes, the apple cake I want is the cake of my childhood.
This cake is fairly plain. It is vegan, but has all the usual refined ingredients: white flour, brown sugar, non-dairy spread. It's the sort of thing our grandparents might have eaten. To me, it is pure comfort food. I like my cake served as is, but if you warm it up and add it with ice cream, that can also be pretty wonderful.
Basic apple vanilla cake
Inspired by my childhood memories
Makes 1 cake with 8 slices
100g non-dairy spread (I used Nuttelex)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Egg replacer to the equivalent of 2 eggs (I used commercial egg replacer)
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 1/2 cups stewed apple (either stewed from peeled green apples or 1 tin of commercial stewed apple)
Optional: 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg or mixed spice.
Preheat your oven to 180'C or 160'C fan forced. Line a round cake tin with baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat together the non-dairy spread, brown sugar and vanilla for 3-5 minutes or until fluffy. Add the egg replacer (or eggs) and beat to combine.
Fold in the flours and milk and stir to combine. Add half of the stewed apple and stir through.
Transfer the mixture to your cake pan and arrange the remaining apple slices on top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
What sorts of foods did you make or create in childhood?