For the love of apple cake

I meant to post this recipe yesterday, but was having technical difficulties. [Cue the “I hate Comcast” theme music.] Anyhoo…as promised, here is one of the tasty dessert recipes that I made for my family’s Thanksgiving table. I’ve copied it here as-is, with my notes in brackets.

I have to say that I love Dorie Greenspan, and have several books that she’s written for herself, or on behalf of someone else. This latest offering is a beautiful book, coffee-table worthy but with really fantastic recipes that are not impossible to create at home by any means (and since time and extra energy is in short supply with my schedule, my sensors for recipe difficulty are fairly sensitive).

I had to return my copy to the library today (because some mean people dared to have their own requests in for it), but I’ve put it on my list to Santa. Because I need another cookbook like I need another hole in the head. If having too many cookbooks is a crime, then just go ahead and arrest me, because I plead guilty.

You’ll see that Dorie suggest using four kinds of apples, because “It’s really nice to mix up the fruit, so that you have some apples that are crisp, some soft, some sweet, and some tart.”

I used one each of Rome, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Honeycrisp (the latter is our current favorite eating apple, our “house apple” if you will). And without further ado…

Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake
From “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan
Serves 8

3/4 cup all-purpose flour [I used whole wheat flour and it turned out fine.]
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 35o degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
  3. Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- 2-inch chunks. [Note: I did this, and the cake was lumpier than in the picture. I would go more for thick “slices” than “chunks” next time, which is what appears to have been done when the cake was baked for the photo in the book.]
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. [Note: I needed this particular cake to be alcohol free. After a little research, I substituted 2 tablespoons maple syrup, about 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and enough water to make up the rest of the 3 tablespoon total. It worked great. Did you think that alcohol bakes away? It doesn’t. After an hour of baking, about 25 percent of the alcohol is still there.]
  5. Whisk in half the flour and, when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
  6. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes. [Note: This took 80 minutes in my oven…that’s why it’s important to follow the other guidelines, like browning and knife inserting. Never be a slave to the timer.]
  7. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish. [Note: I left it on my nice tempered glass springform base, but wanted to retighten the springform sides for transport. I cut pieces of wax paper and put them between the edges of the cake and the springform sides before tightening. I was glad I did!]