It’s really great when you have an excuse to bake cake. It’s even greater when you can bake a gentle, Saturday afternoon, pottering in the kitchen sort of cake, because the people you’re cooking for will be pleased with any cake – even if it’s a little rough around the edges.

I was once told by a great baker, that she cooks to ‘keep her hands busy’. Doing just something hard enough so that it requires your concentration, not to exhaust the mind, but to keep it in check – and stop it running away with it’s own ideas.

Even better when you don’t need to come up with the recipe on your own. This one is fromJoy the Baker, but I have modified the recipe ever so slightly, so I shall write my version down for safe keeping. All credit for the idea, however, stays firmly with Joy.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg (or freshly grated if you have it)
3/4 teaspoon salt
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup golden caster sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract (yes really, or you won’t taste it. If you don’t like vanilla, just leave it out)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk with a scant tbsp of lemon juice added – which is far easier to keep to hand)
2 eating apples, sliced into thin rounds and cored

1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp of cinnamon for topping

Method: (all Joy’s)
Preheat oven to 190 fan or gas mark 5.

Heavily grease and flour the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch cast iron skillet (or cake pan).

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Cream butter and sugar until well incorporated and lighter in colour. Add egg and yolk and vanilla extract.

Add half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and when just combined, the remaining flour. If using a mixer, finish by hand until just combined. Spread in the bottom of the skillet or cake pan.

Core and thinly slice apples, laying over the cake mixture. Finish with a generous sprinkle of the cinnamon sugar mix (don’t use it all if you feel you don’t need it).

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Serve when still slightly warm – outside in the sunshine for summer, or with a generous side of cream or custard for a proper winterpudding.This cake should easily make 8-10 slices, but everyone I know when back for immediate seconds, so perhaps it can only really serve four?