Spiced Toffee Apple Cake (Sarah Cook’s Recipe)

Thank you to everyone who left comments for myself and my sister Wanda on my first Blogoversary! Wanda was greatly encouraged and (I hope) enjoyed writing her first post and sharing her wonderful recipes from Italy.

Today, I wanted to tell you about a cake I made recently, which was a big hit both with my family and at the BBC Three Counties Studio where Nick (My Daddy Cooks) introduced me to the iconic Becky Wiggins (English Mum), foodie and new blogger Christian Carden-Maund (Big Mad Cookery Dad) and wine expert Charles Bennet.  I had made a big tray of cake the night before and so took some of it into the studio, but it’s also perfect for Bonfire Night so I will definitely be making it again. Everyone was very kind and said that the cake was yummy. I had a blast listening to the show and meeting English Mum, and I was able to do my weekly ‘Ren Reccommends’ slot live which is always fun! The theme was ‘frugal food’ – Becky’s lamb meatballs and gooey chocolate fudge brownies were to die for and Christian made a great family supper made from leftover roast chicken, mushrooms, sherry and a cream sauce served with a mashed potato gratin. You can find the recipes on the fact sheet here (half way down the page on a red link) and English Mum’s fab write-up of her experience here. A happy day all around! 

Anyway, back to the cake. I had spotted it from a mile away on the November cover of BBC Good Food Magazine and was pleased to see that it was, of course, one of Sarah Cook’s recipes. Sarah has also been a great guest on Nick’s show in the past and though I missed her in the studio, I was looking forward to meeting her on a Food Styling Course at Leiths School of Food and Wine . Sarah is the Deputy Food Editor at BBC Good Food there really isn’t much that she doesn’t know about food. What I don’t think I really appreciated is that it is the Food Stylist on a shoot who shops for, prepares and then cooks all the food. They are usually helped by a Props Stylist and perhaps an assistant and they work together with the Food Photographer to create the shoot. Sarah is also a Leiths Diploma graduate and as such, now runs her Food Styling courses there.

This week we had the opportunity of styling our own Greek Salad in the kitchen at Leiths under Sarah’s watchful eye. It was pretty amazing to see how twenty students can come up with twenty very different and unique ideas with a basic selection of fresh ingredients. We’re now half way through the course and at the end we get to style our own food and have Stuart Ovenden, a BBC Good Food photographer, take a professional photo of our food for our portfolio. Eek!

Anyway, at the risk of looking like teacher’s pet, here’s my take on Sarah’s wonderful Spiced Toffee Apple Cake. It’s so good that I have made it twice now and I’m making it again this weekend for Bonfire Night. You make the cake batter, which involves softening a few pitted dates in milk before pureeing them and mixing them with the rest of the cake ingredients.  After that, you 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.


Once the cake is cooked, you can drizzle it with Sarah’s quick toffee sauce, which you make by melting toffees in a pan with a splash of milk or, do as I did, and buy one! I actually spotted a sea salted caramel sauce at the shops that I quite fancied, so I just warmed that up and poured it over the top.

Sarah’s Spiced Toffee Apple Cake recipe can be found here on the BBC Good Food Website. It’s a great way of using seasonal autumnal red apples and I just made one other minor change which was that I used cinnamon in place of the mixed spice. I think it’s the clove aspect of mixed spice I’m not fond of, so next time I will be taking Karen up on her idea of blending my own mixed spice.  

As this cake makes a perfect tea time treat, I’m sending this post across to an exciting new blog event, jointly hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked called the  Tea Time Treats event  – to which we are all cordially invited!  The theme this month is Ginger or Bonfire Treats. There’s plenty of time to join in and don’t forget to look out for the round-up which this month will be posted by Karen. As I used autumnal apples, I’ll also be linking it up to Simple and in Season here at Fabulicious Food!  


I hope you enjoy Sarah’s cake too. Let me know what you’re cooking up for Bonfire Night! 


    • Ren says

      Thanks Jac, hope yours turned out well, as I said, it wasn’t a deep bakihng tray, quite a flat one in fact. Have a lovely week end x

  1. says

    Ive made it this week and it was a big success. Everyone loved it.
    Looking at the preparation/cooking time and the list of ingredients, I thought it would be difficult to make but no, this cake is really simple. I’ll definitely make it for Christmas holidays.

    • Ren says

      Hi Helene, oh I’m so pleased you made it. Yes, it is the sort of cake you can just throw together, no separate mixing needed. I am going to also try it without the dates, but substituting two mashed bananas, to see what happens! I think it would work. Otherwise, I will just have to remember to keep buying dates! Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for letting me know what you thought of it.

    • Ren says

      Thanks so much Nazima, it’s a very comforting cake, but probably lethal in calorie content! Hope you had a lovely weekend. x

    • Ren says

      Hi, yes definitely, it’s the pureed prunes I think that give it an extra sweet kick! Thanks for visiting the post and enjoy the rest of the weekend x

  2. Wanda Fabbri says

    Here I am again looking at these delicious recipes and thank you for another wonderful post Ren. Though we don’t celebrate Bonfire Night in Italy I am baking a super chocolate cake. I will try the amazing toffee apple cake one day soon. Wishing everybody a good week-end!

    • Ren says

      Hello, super, hope you do enjoy it one day, this is a yummy one. A cross between a sticky toffee pudding and a tray bake! Hope your chocolate cake turned out well. Have a lovely weekend!

  3. says

    Oh wow that looks absolutely amazing! I’ve had my eye on this recipe but not had a chance to make it yet. Sadly I have not baked up any bonfire treats as I’m a little swamped by work. Just wish I could have a slice of your cake now!

  4. says

    Hi Ren,
    Great post as ever. Love the cake, especially the toffee/caramel sauce, It’s one I shall certainly try myself!
    I did enjoy reading your sister’s post too ,obviously another excellent cook in the family xx

    • Ren says

      Thanks Laura :-) That’s really kind of you to say. Wanda loved reading all the comments. We are a bit of a foodie family, I will encourage Wanda to write a few more posts! Have a lovely weekend.

  5. says

    A great-looking cake – but I bet it is not easy to eat whilst huddled around the bonfire! :)
    Have you ever come across Parkin? My wife is from Lancashire, where Parkin was/is very popular especially on Bonfire Night.

    • Ren says

      Hi Mark, yes I have tried Parkin, and that’s a great choice for the Bonfire. I think you would need a plastic/paper plate for the cake, especially with the toffee sauce, having said that, the cake itself is not too crumbly so you might just get away with it! Failing that, we’ll be nipping inside for ‘hot toddy’ top ups in any case!

  6. says

    That cake looks so amazing! I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I saw it in last month’s Good Food. I can’t wait any longer, I’m going to check if I have enough dates in the cupboard to make this now :-)

    • Ren says

      Hope you did find some dates! A pretty easy recipe to throw together but look lovely and tastes amazing!

    • Ren says

      Thanks Sarah, it does leave you wanting just a little bit more! Especially with the warm sauce. Have a great weekend. x

  7. Ren says

    Thanks Karen, hope you don’t mind me mentioning your mixed spice post too, that was a great idea and I’ll definitely be blending my own to suit my clove aversion! I’m so looking forward to seeing all the other entries, it’s a lovely blog event.

    The food styling course has been a real eye opener, it’s a great way to get all the scoop on how magazines are put together and I certainly look at my favourite reads in a different light now. It’s very much a case of forward planning and the sections in an issue are actully quite methodical. As for style, I think you have plenty, and it’s certainly something that developes over time rather than something that can be taught. Anyway, have a lovely weekend and thanks for the comment x