This is the ultimate apple cake. The use of the sweet starter transports this cake to another level, giving it a rich, indulgent flavour without being too cloying or sweet. The natural sourness of the sourdough enhances the floral flavours in the apple. If you like a bit of crunch in your cakes, chop the apple chunks slightly thicker, if you prefer them softer, cut them thinner; we like a combination of the two. The flavour of this cake actually improves after a couple of days, but don’t worry if you can’t wait that long as it’s also delicious still warm from the oven, especially with a dollop of fresh cream or coconut yoghurt. As an added bonus, it also freezes well.

Day 1

  • 50g coconut sugar
  • 50g milk
  • 50g spelt flour
  • Active sweet starter (see below)

Add the sugar, milk and flour to the whole quantity of the sweet starter. Mix well and leave loosely covered at room temperature overnight.

Day 2

  • 150g recipe starter made on Day 1
  • 180g coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g coconut sugar, plus extra for topping
  • 225g spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 apple, unpeeled, cored and chopped into chunks
  • 1 apple, unpeeled, cored and sliced thinly, for decorating the top


1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ Gas mark 6 and line a 20cm round, deep, loose-bottom cake tin with baking parchment.

2 In a large bowl combine the recipe starter, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Mix well.

3 In another bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the apple chunks – by coating them in flour you prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes. 

4 Add the flour and apple mix to the wet mix and combine well.

5 Pour the mixture into the cake tin, top with the apple slices and sprinkle with coconut sugar.

6 Bake for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10–15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Recipe from Modern Baker: A New Way To Bake by Melissa Sharp with Lindsay Stark (Ebury Press, RRP £26). Photography by Laura Edwards.