Celebrity square meals #39: 'My Apple Cake' by the novelist Andrea Levy

Serves 10

I got this recipe from a friend, but I call it mine - I think I've made it enough times now to justify that. In fact I'm sort of famous for making this cake, within the family at least. It is delicious.

I got this recipe from a friend, but I call it mine - I think I've made it enough times now to justify that. In fact I'm sort of famous for making this cake, within the family at least. It is delicious.

I often say to friends, "Come round, I'll bake a cake." And sometimes I do actually bake one. But seriously, making a cake for someone is an act of pure love - it's a lot of labour too, but it's worth it.

2 eggs
175g castor sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
12tsp baking powder
130g butter
225g self-raising flower
900g cooking apples, peeled and sliced
The zest of one lemon, grated
A sprinkling of vanilla sugar (you can either buy this or make it yourself by putting a vanilla pod in some castor sugar)
Extra butter to grease the tin

First, pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/ gas mark 5. Melt the butter and allow it to cool a little. Put the eggs, castor sugar, vanilla essence, baking powder and butter into a bowl and whisk it all up into a batter.

Slowly add the flour, mixing it in. Pour half the mixture into a greased, 8-inch cake tin. Add most of the apples, then the grated lemon zest, and finally the remaining apples. Pour the rest of the mixture into all the spaces and sprinkle the whole thing with as much of the vanilla sugar as you can stand - well, a nice sprinkling at any rate. Bake it in the oven for 1 12 hours.

Andrea Levy will be appearing at the Hay Festival (0870 9901299/ www.hayfestival.com) on Monday. Her fourth novel, 'Small Island' (Review, £14.99), is shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. The winner is announced on 8 June

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