"There's a myth that anyone who has a liver problem has brought it on themselves" This quote is from a Crohn's disease patient living with a blocked portal vein hoping for a liver transplant (Independent 31st Oct 2010)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Apple cake

T was born and brought up in this house with large garden including the big apple tree, as in photo below.

The tree was substantial enough to support a swing. See below J at about 10 months with T's mum who he called Granne (Anne with 'g r' in front).

Every autumn the tree was harvested for its cooking apples. And every November 5th
(Gr)Anne would bake a cake with the apples known by the family as Bonfire Cake.
For many years I had a copy of the recipe, spreading further copies around friends as it was unusual and delicious.
Last Autumn we were briefly inundated with windfall apples from friends. Time to get baking. Could I find the recipe? Hell, no.
So we invented our own. It's definitely lacking some of (Gr)Anne's ingredients, as she included dried fruit and you couldn't distinguish the apple pieces. But we think ours still tastes pretty good. J likes it slightly warm with a cup of tea, and T likes it as a pudding with custard.

Apple Cake
Ingredients as for basic Victoria sponge;

4oz butter (I use cheap unsalted supermarket own-brand not margarine)
4oz caster sugar
4oz self raising flour
2 eggs
2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 medium Bramley cooking apples or 3 desert apples.
Demerara sugar for topping

Blend the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Mix the bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into the flour and then gradually mix the flour and beaten eggs into the butter/sugar.
Peel and core the apples. Chop into sugar cube size bits. Fold into the cake mix until evenly distributed.
Grease a 10"x9" cake tin and spoon the mixture in. Sprinkle with a generous topping of demerara sugar. Bake Gas 4 (350 F) for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cut into squares.

We've also made this with pears instead of apples. It's a bit 'wetter' and has a milder flavour. The quantity of bicarb might seem high but it helps raise the mixture like a sponge cake as the fruit makes it moist.
Yesterday my brain was thinking 'sponge cake mixture' as I prepared things and I absent mindedly greased my 2 shallow round Victoria sponge cake tins instead of the deeper rectangular one. I'd also started spooning in the mixture before my brain clicked into gear, so decided to carry on. It turned out well, and nobody minded the triangles of cake instead of squares!

Stiffness diary
Wake in the night and find my neck really stiff and throat painful. Sleep for 12 hours and struggle to get out of bed. Find it painful to bend to put socks on.
Take a painkiller.
Better by 11.30 am, background aches only.
12.30. Shopping trip to supermarket. T pushes trolley. Feel fine, only slight ache in upper back
3pm Rooting around in cupboard lifting out photo albums
4pm Legs stiffening
Typing on PC/cooking
6pm. Shoulder joints and left elbow painful.


  1. If you were hoping to coax me back from my break with food and pictures, you win! I would love to see the sights you post in your pictures. Do you give tours? I'll let you know how the apple cake works out in our kitchen.

    Glad to know you're marching on, if stiffly. Just started my second round of chemo this weekend. So far so good considering it's poison. :-)

    Missed ya!

  2. Yum yum yum and many thanks for posting your recipe Fiona...I shall be baking this and will let you know if it's as good as it sounds :-)

    Sorry to hear you're still struggling with the numerous aches and pains :-(
    Are you taking Vitamin D3 in supplement form?

  3. Hi Carole
    There are lots in favour of Vit D3 on the hepatitis forums, but these are people on between 6 to 18 months daily treatment with interferon which is as poison to your body as chemo. However they do say it helps alleviate joint and muscle aches and pains, so I'm giving it a go. I've been taking 400IU daily and have just increased it to 800IU as cholecalciferol (or Liquid Sunshine, isn't that lovely!) I'm nervous about jumping straight in at the 4,000IU level so plan to increase the dose slowly and see how I react.
    When I'm at the docs Wed 9th for my AFP test I plan to ask for a Vit D blood test. My calcium levels have been checked and are normal - Vit D helps absorb calcium.
    Have you added any new supplements recently?

  4. Hi Fiona,

    I forgot to get my apples today so couldn't make my apple cake..:-((...but I'm doing it tomorrow now instead.

    I take 2000IU daily of Vit D3 - been on that dosage since July. I've recently talked my dad into taking 1000IU daily and am pleased about that.
    Apart from that I still take my Glucamune Immune support, AFA's (Algae/seaweed type stuff), Daily multivit, Fish Oil capsules, Probiotic, Wheatgrass...I'm convinced that it makes a difference to how my body works, scientifically proven or not :-)

    I've read SO many studies now about Vit D3 and all the research is pointing towards a huge deficiency in this country for 'most' people.

  5. Would you consider having a Vit D blood test? With my damaged liver having to process stuff I'm just naturally cautious of going well over the RDA, even though lots of research indicates it's generally ok it may not be ok for my liver! - and extra Vit D = extra calcium. Too much calcium has side effects on thyroid.
    With taking fish oil and AFA on top of the multi-vit, do you have to be careful of 'hidden' vits in other things , ie. some fish oil capsules have Vit E and some AFAs have vit B12. Also fortified cereals have added vitamins and iron. It's quite a juggling act to get a healthy balance.