Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quite Possibly the Best Cake Ever

I've always been a fan of raw apple cakes.  My mother made a very tasty one when I was growing up and it was my favorite dessert.  It was even relatively healthy and could easily be made vegan.  It's definitely the best vegan cake I've ever had, and I still use her recipe when I simply need cake but have no eggs.

This, boys and girls, is not her recipe...  While hers is just as good, this one is loaded with butter and simply irresistible.  It is not vegan, and it is not healthy; I figure this is the uptown version of the down-home cake of my childhood.

The following recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan.  For those of you who don't know, she's a food writer and cookbook author who splits her time between the States and France.  Her recipes are reliable, approachable, and a great way to expand your baking prowess without having to break the bank on specialty ingredients.  The only changes I make are to cut the apples smaller and use brandy instead of rum.  Enjoy!

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake 

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.

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. 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.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 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.

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.  Serve with lightly whipped cream if desired.

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