Apple-vanilla teacake with thick vanilla custard

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 10 - 12 people

There's a hidden layer of thick vanilla custard in the centre of this cake that takes it from good to great - serve it warm, but not too hot.

  • 280 gm caster sugar
  • Scraped seeds of 2 vanilla beans
  • 200 gm softened butter, plus 10gm extra, melted, for brushing
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 375 gm self-raising flour
  • 200 ml buttermilk
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced into rounds
  •  
  • Thick vanilla custard
  • 300 ml milk
  • 60 ml dessert wine
  • 1 vanilla bean split, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 110 gm (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 20 gm each plain flour and cornflour
  •  
  • Apple-vanilla compote
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 330 gm (1½ cups) caster sugar
  • 75 ml dessert wine or brandy
  • 5 small Granny Smith apples, each cut into 8 thin wedges
  • Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon
01   For thick vanilla custard, bring milk, wine and vanilla bean and seeds to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar and yolks to combine, then add flours and whisk until smooth. Slowly add hot milk mixture, whisking to combine, then return mixture to pan and bring to the boil, whisking continuously until thick (2-3 minutes). Discard vanilla bean and pour into a buttered 20cm-diameter round cake tin. Smooth top and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
02   For apple-vanilla compote, stir ingredients and 180ml water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until apples are tender and a syrup forms (10-15 minutes). Strain, reserving apples and syrup separately, and refrigerate apples until cool (30 minutes).
03   Preheat oven to 180C. Rub 20gm sugar and half the vanilla seeds in a bowl with your fingertips to combine, then set aside. Beat butter, remaining sugar, cinnamon and remaining vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl, then add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour, then buttermilk, then remaining flour, stirring between each addition, then spread half the mixture in a buttered 23cm-diameter round cake tin lined with baking paper on the base and smooth top. Unmould vanilla custard and place in the centre, scatter with apple compote, spoon remaining cake batter over, smooth top, then arrange sliced apple in a circle, overlapping the edges. Drizzle with melted butter, scatter with vanilla sugar, then bake until golden and cooked though (1½-1¾ hours; cover with foil partway through cooking if cake starts to brown too quickly and remove foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking). Stand for 15 minutes in tin, then run a small knife around the side and turn out onto a rack to cool slightly (30 minutes). Serve warm, drizzled with reserved syrup.
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