Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sweet & Simple Apple Cake

It's fall and time for apple recipes!  Thank you to my baker friend, Jennifer, for giving me the recipe I used as a starting point for this post: Teresa Apple Cake Supreme. Any recipe with “supreme” in the title has got to be a good place to start, right?

The original recipe has more sugar, more cinnamon and a generous dose of orange juice. I reduced the sugar and cinnamon, omitted the orange juice altogether, and added unsweetened applesauce and vanilla bean. The result is a not-too-sweet cake that lets the apples shine and highlights my favorite flavor – vanilla. Vanilla beans are expensive and it’s always a treat to bake with them for family and friends. And isn’t the smell of a vanilla bean out of this world?

If you haven’t split and scraped a vanilla bean, it’s simple: Make sure your paring knife is sharp. Working carefully, split the bean down the middle, scrape down the sides, getting all the little vanilla bits.  It’s worth it to watch a brief vanilla bean tutorial – click here for an excellent one. 

What I love about the recipe – the original and mine – is how easily it pulls together. The only time consuming part is peeling, coring and slicing the apples which I  find relaxing, especially with a cup of coffee or tea and the kids stealing apple slices as I work.

A note about pans for this Apple Cake. I tried a springform, a Bundt and a 13x9 Pyrex glass baking dish. The 13x9 pan gave me the best results – uniform color and crisp-but-not-hard edges. And, at home, I always rotate my pan(s) halfway thru baking for best results.

Sweet & Simple Apple Cake
Serves 10-12

Preheat oven to 350°.
Prepare a 13 x9 glass baking dish by lightly greasing it. Set aside.

3 (405 grams) cups AP flour
2 (400 grams) cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup (215 grams) vegetable oil
1/2 (123 grams) cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

6 cups (1,020 grams) apples sliced thin (I use Granny Smith)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, scraped*
Toss the apple slices with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla bean. Set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.

In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine dry and wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. If there are any dry crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, gently work them in with you hands.

Take half the cake batter and spread in the bottom the prepared 13-x9 glass baking dish, using a butter knife or small offset spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Take half the apple mixture and spread evenly over the batter. Repeat.

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for approx. 1 hour.  When the cake is done, the apples on top will be wilted and lightly browned and the cake will be set in the middle. Let cake cool in the pan.

Serve warm from the oven, room temp or cool from the fridge. I prefer this cake after it has had a chance to sit – I like to bake one after dinner for breakfast the next day! Just before serving, if you wish, dust the cake with powdered sugar. Or, dust each piece individually with powdered sugar just before serving. For a homey dessert, try the Apple Cake with, a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mmmm. Enjoy!

*If you prefer not to use a vanilla bean, increase the vanilla in the cake to 2 1/2 tsp.

Apples in Vermont, September 2011