Tuscan Apple Cake With Blackberry & Geranium Leaf Compote

16th November 2017

Interview: Sophie Missing
Photographs: Dan Dennison

“I am never quite sure if I should be calling this a cake or a tart but in any event it is delicious and quite easy to make. The origins of the recipe are from Tuscany in Italy but I like to use highly perfumed Irish dessert apples when in season. Look out for some lesser known but very delicious Irish dessert apples such as Irish Peach and Ardcairn Russet.”
Rory O’Connell, food writer & educator, Ballycotton, Co Cork

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS (for the apple cake)

10g butter, melted, for greasing the parchment paper
4 dessert apples
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
150ml cream
110g butter, melted and cooled
125g whole almonds, blanched, peeled and ground to a fine powder in a food processor (or ground almonds)
110g plain flour, sieved
1½ tsp baking powder, sieved

100g of apricot jam
1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp of chopped sweet geranium leaves (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4.

Line a 28cm flan ring with a removable base with a disc of parchment paper. The paper should in one piece cover the base and sides of the tin and come up 1cm above the edge of the tin. Brush the paper with a little melted butter.

Peel, core and quarter the apples and slice into c 3mm slices. Mix with the lemon zest.

Whisk the vanilla, sugar and eggs to a thick and light consistency similar to a batter. Whisk in the cream and cooled melted butter. Fold in the almonds, flour and baking powder. Add ¾ of the sliced apples, being careful not to break the apple slices.

Pour the mixture into the prepared flan ring and gently smooth over the surface. Scatter the remaining apples over the surface and sprinkle with 1 dessertspoon of caster sugar.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 160C and cook for a further 40 minutes by which time the tart will feel gently set. It may be necessary to cover the tart during the cooking with a sheet of parchment paper if the tart is getting too dark. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the tart is cooling make the apricot glaze. Warm the apricot jam and lemon juice in a small saucepan to just soften the jam. Do not allow it to boil as it dulls the flavour. Pass through a sieve pushing as much through as you can.

While the tart is still warm, paint the surface with the apricot glaze to achieve a shiny finish and if using the chopped geranium, sprinkle on immediately after glazing the tart.

Serve warm with softly whipped cream or blackberry and sweet geranium compote (below).

Blackberry and Sweet Geranium compote

“I really enjoy picking wild blackberries at the end of the summer and, weather permitting, into the autumn months. It is thoroughly relaxing, and your mind can wander off in all sorts of directions it might not normally have time to take. The joy of gathering nature’s bounty for free is, of course, a bonus, and I prefer the wilder, smokey flavour of these to the bigger and fatter cultivated blackberries. This very simple dish is good with all sorts of things. Simplest of all is to serve it with a shortbread biscuit and whipped cream. Vanilla or caramel ice-cream, coffee meringue and panna cotta all benefit too. The addition of the sweet geranium leaf adds a highly scented flavour to the dish and makes the humble and undervalued little wild blackberry into something rather exotic.” – Rory

Serves 4 as a pudding or 8 as a sauce


125ml/4fl oz water
120g/4oz sugar
4 sweet geranium leaves
225g/8oz blackberries, fresh or frozen


Place the cold water, sugar and leaves in a small saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the leaves. They will be wilted looking by now but their flavour will have been infused into the syrup. Add the blackberries and simmer for a further 10 minutes until the syrup is a deep blackberry colour and a little reduced. Allow to cool.

Posted 16th November 2017

In Recipes


Interview: Sophie Missing
Photographs: Dan Dennison