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Lerato’s Tipsy Toffee Spiced Apple Cake

I love mixing the cocktail of cultures in my family to create wonderful food and memories. Apple kuchen (Apfelkuchen) is a favourite of ours, especially my mother-in-Law, Ingrid and I have been inspired to create a version with wondrous spices and a decadent tipsy toffee sauce with a South African cream liqueur made from marula fruit that is famed for making elephants tipsy.
Have a merry tipsy Christmas and a spectacular new year ahead! 
Lots of Love,
Lerato x


This recipe was first featured in Pflanzenfreund (Plant Friends) - a Swiss/German magazine who also kindly featured me in their December print highlighting my work with the Royal Horticultural Society and how ambassadors of the UK’s leading gardening have changed over centuries. See the magazine feature here in German.


Lerato Tipsy Toffee Spiced Apple Cake

For the cake

Unsalted Butter for greasing tin

3 Apples, (I used Gala apples) cored and sliced into slim 1cm wedges, (reserve some for topping the cake),

Juice of one lemon

250ml milk

100g pitted dates

100ml rapeseed or olive oil

3 large free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla paste

150g light brown sugar (or double the quantity of dates and omit sugar)

150g self-raising flour

100 semolina

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp all spice

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted


For the Tipsy Toffee Sauce

50g unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature

50g light brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 cloves

100ml double cream

100ml Amarula or Irish Cream liquor (or cream for no alcohol – can be dairy or dairy free)


Icing sugar for dusting, optional


 Let’s get cooking! 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan.


2. Place the sliced apples in a bowl and pour over the lemon juice. Give it a good mix and set aside for later.


3. Pour the milk in a saucepan and add the pitted dates. Gently bring to a slow simmer and after 2 minutes, take the pan off the heat. Leave the dates for a few minutes to soften then pour into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.


4. Pour the blended milk and dates into a large bowl and whisk in the oil, eggs, and vanilla paste. Now add the sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, semolina, spices, baking powder and salt and use a wooden spoon to mix well until smooth.


5. Grease a 20cm cake tin thoroughly with butter and line with baking paper. Pour in the cake batter and spread out in an even layer. Place the apple slices one at a time on top of the cake batter, covering the entire surface but leaving about 1 cm from the cake tin. Then gently press the cake slices into batter. Use a spoon to smooth the surface, covering the apple slices with cake batter. Brush the remaining apple slices with melted butter and arrange them on top of the cake, in a circular direction or decorating it as you wish. Place in the middle of the oven to bake for 50-55 minutes. Check the cake after 45-50 minutes and if the top is browning to quickly, you can cover the top with baking paper.


6. Once perfectly baked, a skewer will come out clean or with little crumbs and the cake will be a golden on top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing. Use a table knife to run around the edge of the cake and turn out onto a rack.


7. Meanwhile make your tipsy toffee sauce by adding all the ingredients into a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter and sugar melt and once the sauce starts to turn a deep golden brown, stir a few times and after about 2 minutes remove the pan from the heat. Your toffee sauce should be dark, glossy, and slightly thickened. It will thicken further as it cools.


8. Brush some of the tipsy toffee sauce all over the cake and dust with icing sugar if you wish. Serve your beautiful, spiced apple cake with the tipsy toffee sauce drizzled on top for a wonderful and decadent treat.


Lerato’s Tips: Double the amount of dates if you prefer not to use sugar. I prefer to use only dates in the cake since the toffee sauce is sweet. I have less of a sweet tooth than most. You can also use date syrup for the toffee sauce. The semolina can be substituted with polenta. The more dates in your cake, the darker it will become. 


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