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Liam’s Apple, Almond and Maple Crumble Loaf

Makes: 1 large cake (serves 10-12)

Hands-on time: 30 minutes

Baking time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Skill level: Easy

A loaf cake with a difference, this spiced sponge is studded with apple chunks and topped with a crunchy almond crumble and flavoursome maple syrup glaze.

For the sponge:

1 medium Bramley or cooking apple (about 325g)

1 large Granny Smith or tart dessert apple (about 155g)

250g self-raising flour

140g unsalted butter, softened

70g golden caster sugar

70g light muscovado sugar

3 medium eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Few gratings nutmeg or ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons milk (not skimmed)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the crumble:

115g plain flour

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

50g golden caster sugar

20g light muscovado sugar

75g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

50g flaked almonds

For the glaze:

200g icing sugar

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons double cream

1 tablespoon full-fat milk

For the decoration:

50g toasted flaked almonds

Icing sugar, for dusting

You will also need:

900g/2lb loaf tin (about 26cm x 12.5cm x 7.5cm), greased with butter and lined with a long strip of baking paper (covering the base and two short sides)

Electric hand-held whisk/stand mixer

Small disposable piping bag

Step 1 – Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/Gas 3.

Step 2 – Peel, quarter and core the apples, then roughly chop into 1cm chunks. Place in a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the flour and toss until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Step 3 – Combine the softened butter and both sugars in a bowl and mix with an electric hand-held whisk or stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Step 4 – Separately, beat the eggs with the vanilla extract, then gradually add to the butter mixture – beating well after each addition and, on the last three additions, incorporating a tablespoon of the flour to prevent the mixture from curdling.

Step 5 – Sift the remaining flour, cinnamon and nutmeg into the bowl. Add the apple mixture, milk and maple syrup, then gently but thoroughly mix everything together with a plastic spatula or large metal spoon. Transfer to the prepared tin and level the surface.

Step 6 – To make the crumble topping: sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugars. Add the butter and rub into the mixture using the tips of your fingers to make a rough crumble with plenty of larger knobbly pieces. Mix in the almonds then sprinkle evenly over the sponge.

Step 7 – Bake for about 70 to 80 minutes, until the loaf is golden and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the tin from the oven, run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the loaf, then leave to cool for about 10 minutes before carefully turning out the loaf onto a wire rack.

Step 8 – Once the loaf is completely cold, make the glaze: sift the icing sugar and salt into a bowl, make a well in the centre, then add the vanilla, maple syrup, cream and milk. Combine with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth, thick and just-pourable.

Step 9 – Transfer to a small piping bag, cut off a corner and pipe the glaze in a zig-zag pattern over the cake – or simply drizzle/pour over the top. Finish with toasted almond flakes. Leave to set, then dust with icing sugar before serving.