This cake has been made at Ballymaloe for years. We even have guests who ask for it specifically every time they visit. The fruit sinks to the bottom as it cooks, leaving a light sponge on top with a lovely sugary crust. Makes 12-16 squares.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF), Gas mark 6. Line the sides and base of the cake tin (20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin) with parchment paper.
Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, 175g (6oz) caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a figure of eight pattern (this will take about 5 minutes).
Melt the butter in a saucepan with the milk, then pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices, then arrange them over the batter. They will sink to the bottom (this is meant to happen!). Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas mark 4 and bake for a further 20–25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.
Allow to cool in the tin, cut into squares and serve warm. It is delicious with cream!
Raspberry and pear: Instead of the cinnamon, mix the finely grated zest of 1 orange into the batter. Instead of the apples, sink 100g (31/2oz) fresh or frozen raspberries and thin slices of 2 pears into the batter and cook in the same way.
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