200g (7oz) dark brown soft sugar
150ml (5fl oz) groundnut oil
100g (3 1/2oz) raisins
100g (3 1/2oz) desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp mixed spice
200g (7oz) wholemeal self-raising flour
375g (12oz) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and grated
For the toffee apples:
3 small apples
200g (7oz) caster sugar
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp double cream
50g (2oz) dried apricots, finely chopped
150g (5oz) shelled pistachios, finely chopped
3 chocolate sticks, such as Matchmakers
For the icing:
275g (9oz) unsalted butter, softened
300g (10oz) icing sugar, sifted
75g (3oz) cocoa powder, sifted
For the salted caramel
1 x 397g tin condensed milk caramel
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
65g (2 1/2oz) dark chocolate
For the spun sugar (optional):
50g (2oz) caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190°C, fan 170°C. Grease the base and sides of 2 x 19cm round tins, then line with nonstick baking paper.
2. To make the cake, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Gradually pour in the oil, whisking as you go.
3. Fold in the remaining cake ingredients, then divide between the tins.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until risen and springy. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from the tin, then transfer to a rack and leave to cool completely.
5. Meanwhile, make the toffee apples. Wash the apples in hot water to remove the waxy coating, then put on a sheet of nonstick baking paper and spear each with a skewer.
6. Heat the sugar in a small pan with 50ml (2fl oz) water until dissolved. Stir in the vinegar and golden syrup and bring to the boil.
7. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until a drop sets when drizzled into a glass of cold water. Stir in the cream and cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
8. Toss the apricots and 50g (2oz) pistachios together on a plate. Swirl each apple in the toffee to coat, then dip into the pistachio and apricot mixture. Transfer to the baking paper to set.
9. Remove the skewers and replace with the chocolate sticks, to give each apple a ‘stalk’ (see top tip).
10. To make the icing, beat 250g (8oz) of the softened butter together with the icing sugar and cocoa powder.
11. For the salted caramel, put the remaining butter in a small pan with the condensed milk caramel and heat together, stirring, until you have a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt and leave to cool while you ice the cake.
12. Put one half of the cake on a plate and spread 2-3 tbsp of the icing over the top. Sprinkle with 50g (2oz) pistachios. Top with the other sponge, then spread the remaining butter icing over the top and sides of the cake.
12. Pour over half of the salted caramel and spread to the edges so it runs down the sides. Chop 15g (1/2oz) of the dark chocolate and stir into the remaining caramel until melted; pour over the cake and allow to run down the sides, creating a distinct second layer.
13. Arrange the toffee apples carefully on the top of the cake, stalks pointing upwards, and sprinkle with the remaining pistachios. Melt the remaining chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and drizzle over the apples and cake.
14. If decorating with spun sugar, melt the sugar in a small pan, without stirring, over a medium heat. Remove from the heat when the sugar turns golden brown and leave to cool a little. Then hold the pan above the cake and, using a fork, flick the caramel over the cake and toffee apples.
- If you’re short on time, you can simply use ready-made toffee apples rather than make your own.
- Don’t lose your drip effect! Avoid the caramel becoming too runny by chilling the cake for 5-10 minutes after applying each layer.
- Add full-on wow factor to your cake by dipping broken chocolate sticks in melted chocolate to look like twigs.
Recipe courtesy of Tesco Real Food