Simply delicious apple caramel slice

I made a big mistake yesterday – I watched an episode of The Great British Bake Off. The programme itself was fine, but it was cold, grey and wet outside and the combination of the dull view out the window and the gorgeous looking cake on the screen could only lead to one thing – I had to bake!

I’ve been trying really hard to cut down on sugar recently; having a yeast intolerance is all connected to a yeast overgrowth which of course thrives on sugars. I feel so much better when all forms of sugar are avoided, but sometimes it really is just too hard and I fall off the wagon. It is definitely my weakness! When I tell people that I have a dairy free diet, they look in horror and always ask how I manage without cheese. For me, it’s not too difficult, but live without cake………? Now that’s really hard!

Our rather overgrown and straggly apple tree has had a bumper crop this year, so there’s been lots of apple based dishes served up in my gorgeous new kitchen. With a bowl of freshly picked fruit on the worktop, it had to be an apple based bake, but really sweet and sticky. Caramel was the answer, but was it possible to make it dairy free?

The answer is yes – and amazingly successfully as long as you’re patient and have a little time! I found this recipe in The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town, a book packed full of mouthwateringly gorgeous cake recipes, and adapted it slightly (hope Ms Cupcake doesn’t mind!).

Caramel is traditionally made with sugar, butter and cream; rather wonderfully, it works equally well with dairy free options, just done in a slightly different way. The trickiest part was melting the sugar and golden syrup at the beginning – it seemed to take ages but do persevere as it comes together eventually! I have to admit my caramel was rather grainy before I put it on the bake, but it didn’t matter as once baked and cooled it was wonderfully smooth – and oh so sweet!

So, if you have a spare hour, it’s grey and wet outside and you just need something delightfully sweet to cheer everyone up, give this a go. But if you’re trying to lose weight – steer clear, as this is definitely not a healthy option!

** allergy options – this recipe contains wheat flour and nuts. It would work as well without the nuts and just the apple. I made this with wheat free flour with excellent results, so no need to shy away if you have a wheat or gluten allergy.

Apple Caramel Slice
For the caramel:
200g caster sugar
60g brown sugar
2 tbspoons golden syrup
35g dairy free spread
60mls soya cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the base:
270g self raising flour
230g brown sugar (caster will do if you’ve run out)
180g oats
1/2 tsp salt
260g dairy free spread
3 medium sized apples
50g pecan nuts (or walnuts)
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grab a 33x22cm cake tin, grease it well and line it with baking paper – make sure it comes up all the sides as well.
Make the caramel first – put the sugars and golden syrup into a small saucepan over a low heat and stir. Keep going – it will melt eventually and you will end up with a thick liquidy sticky brown gloop. Don’t be tempted to increase the heat otherwise the sugar will burn. Once you think all the sugar has melted, take it off the heat and leave for a minute or so. Then add the dairy free spread, soya cream and vanilla essence and stir well to combine. Leave to one side to cool whilst you make the base.
Place the flour, sugar, oats and salt into a large bowl. Add the dairy free spread and mix well – I used my hands as it was easier! Once you have a sticky dough, put about 200g to one side and press the rest into the base of the cake tin, making an even layer. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, peel and chop the apples and check your caramel – I found it had gone too thick to spread so reheated it very gently to make it pourable. Take the base out of the oven, cover it with apples and pecan nuts and then pour on the caramel sauce. Crumble the remaining dough over the top and put back in the oven for 20mins or until it’s golden and bubbling.
Remove from the oven and put out of the way – the caramel is so liquid you cannot do anything with it until it’s completely cool otherwise the whole thing will collapse. Patience is definitely required at this point, so go and do something else to distract you!!!
Once cool, cut into slices and serve with a little ice cream (dairy free of course!) and enjoy!
Top tip – the caramel is really sticky so when you pour it over the top before baking, try not to go right up the outside edges. It will spread anyway and too much sticks to the paper and the tin!!

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