National Integration Cake

One cake to rule them,
One cake to find them,
One cake to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them.

This is the preamble of the National Integration Cake. Why the name, you ask? Think about what brings us all together.

That colleague who gets rajma-chawal for lunch.

Spicy Biryani over Arnab’s dinner theatrics.

Kaju Katli for Diwali.

Super chilled beer at an Ind Vs Aus match (That’s our new Pakistan).

You get the drift.

Now let’s add one more to the repertoire.

Juicy & freshly picked red apples from Kashmir meets with Kerala spices so fragrant, that it makes me go “good god -my-kitchen-smells-like heaven”.

North meets South meets a two Rum glaze. Hello Old Monk, my country’s most loved magic potion. Here, meet caramel sauce, you should get along well.

And now, top that off with cinnamon apple chips so crisp that it would make my pohe-chiwda making grand aunt super proud.

Bringing the nation together, one spoon at a time.

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My favourite bit is the stewing of the apples. Sizzling ghee infuses with spices and caramelizes the apples. Melts you from the inside.

Plus my instagram feed tells me its ‘Fall’ so apparently apples + spices + yellow coloured sweaters are in vogue. Full marks for being globally relevant on atleast two counts.

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This is a big, family sized cake. Like those 80s Bajaj ads, it will bring your family together.

They will demand to eat it as soon as the oven timer goes ting. And much like mine, they will burn themselves eating it.  You may choose to save them, by serving it with ice cream. And maybe a generous helping of the rum caramel sauce on top.

Or, you know, let them burn themselves. Especially if you’re Rakhi gift is still pending.

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Tasting notes: Lusciously moist with a BIG hit of spices – cinnamon, cloves  & nutmeg. And just enough a bite from the apples.

But the boss of this cake is the Mace. You’ll notice it towards the back of your tongue, sneaking up on you, making you beg for more.

The cake is not too sweet so the tipple of rum caramel puts it on the right side of ‘dessert’.

It tastes even better the next day!

 

National Integration Cake

 

Components:

– Apple Cake

– Dark Rum Caramel Sauce

– White Rum Glaze

– Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips : I used this recipe and added some nutmeg to the spice mix to heat things up.

 

For the Apples

Ingredients:

– Clarified Butter (ghee) : 2 tbsp

– Apples : 4 (firm) medium-sized peeled, cored and cut into cubes

– Star Anise : 2 pieces

– Mace : 1 big piece

– Cinnamon Powder : 1/2 tsp

– Clove Powder : 1/2 tsp

– Nutmeg, grated : 1/2 tsp

– Sugar (if needed) : 2 tbsp (my apples were pretty sweet, so you can omit/add as per your taste)

 

Method:

– Heat the clarified butter in a pan till it’s nice and hot

– Add the mace & star anise and fry till it releases its aromas.

– Throw in the apples and fry them with the spiced butter. Add the cinnamon, clove & nutmeg powders. Incase you’re adding sugar, add it at this point and let them glaze nicely.

– Let the apples stew for about 10 minutes or until they are tender. You’re looking to cook them just a little, to a point where they still have a bite. Once cooked, remove from the heat and let them cool.

 

For the Cake 

Ingredients:

– Unsalted butter (at room temperature): 12 tbsp or 170 g

– Sugar : 1 3/4 cups or 350 g

– Vanilla extract : 2 tsp

– Eggs (at room temperature): 4

– Flour : 3 cups or 420 g

– Baking Powder : 1 tbsp

– Baking Soda : 1 tsp

– Salt: 1 tsp

– Nutmeg, grated  : 1/2 tsp

– Cinnamon Powder : 1 tsp

– Clove Powder: 1/2 tsp

– Yoghurt : 1 cup or 240 g

 

Method:

– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter and flour a 3L pan (tap out any excess flour) I used a square mould, but feel free to use any shape.

– Beat the butter with the sugar & vanilla until its light and fluffy.

– Add the eggs one at a time. You may need to scrape the batter down from the sides, between between additions.

– Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon powder, nutmeg, and clove powder.

– Stir in a third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in half of the yoghurt. Stir in the next third of dry ingredients and then the last of the yoghurt. End with stirring in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Make sure not to overmix. It’s ok to have a few visible streaks of flour.

– Fold in the cooled apples and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

– Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

– Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then turn it out onto a cooling rack.

 

For the Two Rum Glaze

 

Dark Rum Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

– Sugar : 1/2 cup

– Water : 1/6 cup + 1/4 cup

– Lime juice / Cream of Tartar : A few drops/ a pinch

– Dark Rum : 3/4 cup

 

Method:

– Spread the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan in an even layer. Pour 1/6 cup of water to dampen it.

– There are many different methods of making caramel. I make mine with a simple rule : NO STIRRING.

– Put the pan on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the lime juice /cream of tartar. Again DON’T STIR the sugar.

– If you feel the sugar is caramelizing unevenly, swirl the pan from side to side to even it out.

– The caramel will start smoking and slowly turning dark amber. Remove it from the heat immediately and add the remaining  1/4 cup of water and stir with a heatproof spatula till it’s completely mixed in. The caramel will splutter, so be careful.

– Let it cool completely and then stir in the rum until well incorporated.

 

White Rum Glaze

Ingredients

– Icing Sugar : 1 cup

– Lime Juice : A few drops

– White Rum : 2 tbsp

 

Method

– Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.

– Mix together the lime juice and rum in a smaller bowl.

– Slowly add this mix into the icing sugar, stirring as you go along. You’re looking for a thick but spreadable consistency, so incorporate as required.

 

Assembly

– Once the cake has cooled completely glaze spread the white rum glaze and then add the dark rum caramel sauce.

– Top with the crispy cinnamon apple chips.

– Serving suggestions : Vanilla or ginger ice cream topped with some more dark rum caramel sauce. It also works great with a cup of spicy chai!

 

Go on, make this cake your constitutional right.

 

All Images by Ishita Thakur

 

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