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Hands up if you believe in coincidences? Well how about this… every weekend my Mum buys the Guardian which comes with the magazine. I always flick straight to the cooking section and hope for a delicious baking recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

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So this weekend I made my weekly dash for the magazine, eagerly hoping for a recipe and I was not disappointed. An apple and anise cake, coincidentally the Thursday before my aunt had made a carrot soup using star of anise.

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This soup was seriously the best soup I have ever tasted. Ever.

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Which got me thinking I would like to try and bake with it some time and… Voila! A happy coincidence occurred.

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A lovely moist cake bursting with contrasting textures and flavours, I think I may have found a new favourite. I love the fact the apples are soft and little pops of lemon and anise comes through every once in a while. In using brown sugar you get a deep, rich flavour and I actually might have licked the mixing bowl clean (no shame).

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The recipe calls for anise seeds, however I couldn’t find any so I emptied two pod petals and crushed them in a mortar and pestle and it seemed to work just fine.

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Ingredients:

2 star anise pods
100g sultanas
juice of 1 lemon
100g ground almonds
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g butter
200g soft dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
500g eating apples, peeled, cored, quartered and thickly sliced
25g demerara sugar
Recipe (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for The Guardian)… makes 1 cake
 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and butter a baking tin. Get the anise seeds out of the ‘petals’ and crush in the mortar and pestle then set put in a saucepan with the lemon juice and sultanas. Heat through until steaming then set to one side to plump up.

Mix together the flour, almonds and salt. In a bowl beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy then add one egg at a time, switching up each time between the flour mixture. Peel, core and cut the apple into chunky slices then add them to the batter along with the saucepan of lemon, sultanas and anise. Stir then pour into the baking tin. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. If it starts to burn put tin foil over the top. Before letting it cool on a rack, let it sit in the tin for 15 minutes then turn it out.

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For an extra zing whisk cream then add some lemon juice.

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