Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Cake

The Hubs and I have been on Fall Break this week–both of our universities include, in their fall calendars, a four-day weekend at the midterm mark.  This a scheduling innovation I’d never heard of until I moved to Texas; the many universities I’d attended or taught for in the Midwest and Northwest never saw fit to break up that seemingly interminable stretch between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.  It’s been really nice to have a couple of days where the two of us could just putz around together:  reading (without the sweet sounds of Dragonball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 3 in the background), going out to a leisurely lunch, or just getting things done that needed to be done.  We took many cans of old paint to the Public Works yard, for instance, so they could be properly disposed of.

Yes, kids, this is the heady romantic adventure you’ve longed for.

Free time also means time in the kitchen–time to actually give some thought to what I might like to eat, not what’s quick and easy and won’t cause a scene at the dinner table.  I made a big batch of Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque yesterday evening, both because I’ve been a little obsessed with squash and pumpkins lately and because it makes enough soup to freeze for another meal.  But I wanted something sweet for dessert, too, and since I was already working with an apple for dinner, I decided to make this Apple Cake for dessert.

I adapted this from a Dorie Greenspan recipe that I found online, making just a few changes.  First of all, I used my usual gluten-free flour blend rather than wheat flour.  I also left out the rum in the original recipe, because I didn’t have any on hand and don’t, generally speaking, like the taste of rum.  Instead, I increased the vanilla to three teaspoons and used vanilla bean paste rather than extract.  If you don’t have vanilla bean paste in your pantry, I’d imagine the extract will work just as well.  Finally, I added a little sprinkle of turbinado sugar on top, to give the cake a deep, golden brown color after baking.

One change I resisted:  I didn’t add any cinnamon to this recipe.   I could hardly believe there was an Apple Cake recipe in existence that didn’t call for cinnamon, and I wasn’t sure I’d be happy with the results, but I decided to be adventurous.  And I’m happy that I did, because the flavor of this cake is really unique:  without the cinnamon, the apples and vanilla really come through in their own lovely, quiet way.

This cake has a very moist and tender crumb.  It’s also delicious for breakfast, as The Hubs and I discovered this morning.  According to the original recipe, it will keep at room temperature for two days–but I don’t think there’s a cake known to humankind that has lasted that long in the Foodie household. This one will most certainly not be an exception.  Store the cake under a cake dome or inverted bowl rather than wrapping it in plastic–this cake is so moist that it will stick to any sort of wrapping.



Apple Cake


3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (I used 2 Granny Smith and 2 Macintosh)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted and cooled


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally butter a 9-inch springform pan; place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set it aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Peel, core, and chop the apples into 1-inch pieces. (I peeled the apples, then used my apple slicer to core and slice them into eighths; then I cut the slices into thirds.) Set the apples aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add half the flour mixture, then half the melted butter, whisking after each addition. Repeat this process with the rest of the flour mixture and the butter. Add the apples to the batter and use a spatula to stir everything together, coating the apple chunks with the cake batter.

Turn the batter into the prepared springform pan. Use the spatula to make sure the batter is distributed evenly, but don't worry if the top is lumpy. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a knife inserted at the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack let it sit for five minutes.

Run a dull knife round the edges of the cake before releasing the the sides of the springform pan. (If you see apple chunks sticking to the springform, use the knife to release them and gently stick them back where they belong.) Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving, so it doesn't fall apart when you slice it.

You can, of course, serve this cake with some whipped cream or ice cream, but it's pretty terrific all by itself.

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