- Serves 16
- 1 hr 10 mins to prepare and 45 mins to cook
- 565 calories / serving
- 4 eggs
- 200g dark brown soft sugar
- 150ml groundnut oil
- 100g raisins
- 100g desiccated coconut
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 200g wholemeal self-raising flour
- 375g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and grated
For the toffee apples
- 3 small apples
- 200g caster sugar
- ½ tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 50g dried apricots, finely chopped
- 150g shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- 3 chocolate sticks, such as Matchmakers
For the icing
- 275g unsalted butter, softened
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- 75g cocoa powder, sifted
For the salted caramel
- 397g tin condensed milk caramel
- ½ tsp sea salt flakes
- 65g dark chocolate
For the spun sugar (optional)
- 50g caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190°C, and fan 170°C. Grease the base and sides of 2 x 19cm round tins, then line with nonstick baking paper.
- Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl to make the cake. Gradually pour in the oil, whisking as you go.
- Fold in the remaining cake ingredients, then divide between the tins.
- Bake for 30-35 mins, until risen and springy. Cool for 2 mins before removing from the container, then transfer to a rack and leave to cool completely.
- 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.
- Heat the sugar in a small pan with 50ml water until dissolved. Stir in the vinegar and golden syrup and bring to a boil.
- Cook for 10-12 mins, until a drop, sets when drizzled into a glass of cold water. Stir in the cream and cook for 1-2 mins, then remove from the heat.
- Toss the apricots and 50g 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. Remove the skewers and replace them with the chocolate sticks to give each apple a ‘stalk’ (see top tip).
- To make the icing, beat 250g of the softened butter and the icing sugar and cocoa powder.
- 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.
- Put half of the cake on a plate and spread 2-3 tbsp of the icing over the top. Sprinkle with 50g pistachios.
- Top with the other sponge then spread the remaining butter icing over the top and sides of the cake.
- Pour half of the salted caramel and spread to the edges so it runs down the sides.
- Chop 15g 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.
- 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.
- If decorating with spun sugar, melt the sugar in a small pan, without stirring, over 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 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 mins after applying each layer. Add the full-on wow factor to your cake by dipping broken chocolate sticks in melted chocolate to look like twigs.