Apple Tart Cake
Have you ever realized halfway through following a new recipe that it’s not exactly turning out how it should? That happened to me yesterday when I was making this cake tart thing for dessert. (Yes, we’re having dinner parties again! Neighbors beware!)
I don’t usually follow recipes unless I’m baking something for the first time, and yesterday was no exception. I saw this delightful looking thing and decided I needed to eat it. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I set about peeling and slicing apples while listening to podcasts of my therapist Ira Glass.
When I got to the part where I was supposed to pulse the cold butter and other crust/cake ingredients in the food processor and I realized I don’t have a food processor! I was so soothed by Ira’s voice I just thought Nevermind! I’ll use the blender. Same difference, right? Apparently not. Instead of my dough looking like cornmeal, as the recipe so eloquently dictates, mine looked like, well, cookie dough:
Hm…this isn’t right, I thought. But then again, I like cookies! Not discouraged, I decided it was fun to pulse things in the blender! It’s a one-dish clean up job plus, seeing as it was extra tricky to get all the bits of dough out of the crevices, there was more for me to lick.
One part classic apple tart one part Jewish apple cake, it hits all the right notes. It is beautiful and slices perfectly, so it makes a stunning tea cake or dessert (and this is a dessert even I can stomach for breakfast). I asked Francesco what he thought and we concluded there is nothing we would change about it (ok, ok, I lied when I said I stuck to the recipe…I added salt – which goes without saying for those who know me – and reduced the sugar), except maybe making a good spoonful of whipped cream on the side mandatory.
APPLE TART CAKE
Adapted from Orangette, who says to make this in the food processor. But if you, like me, don’t have a food processor, you can just as easily use the blender or even a hand mixer. If you live in a cave and have none of these things, you can probably use your hands to mix the butter in. Also, to achieve maximum beauty, make sure you slice your apples very thin, using a mandolin or by hand. It’s actually very soothing, especially when listening to Ira Glass and knowing that this cake is about to come out of your oven and into your belly.
SERVES 6 as dessert
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold butter, cut into a small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 large apples, peeled and sliced very thin
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment (or in the blender or in a large bowl), combine the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Add the butter, and pulse until no large lumps remain. (If you’re not using a food processor, improvise and use your hands to rub them butter in.)
Add the vanilla and the egg, and blend well, until it resembles cornmeal (or until the mixture is uniform). Dump it into the prepared springform pan and make sure it’s spread evenly over the bottom. Orangette says to compact it a little, but mine wasn’t compactable.
Arrange the apple slices over the base in a tight circular pattern. It may seem as though you have too many apple slices to fit, but keep going. Really squeeze them in. Bake for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk to blend well. After the cake has baked for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven, and spoon the topping evenly over it. Bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the topping looks set.
Cool in the pan for a few minutes then run a thin knife around the edge to release any areas that may have stuck, and remove the sides of the pan. Cool completely before serving with lightly whipped lightly sweetened cream.
Note: This cake is even better on the second day. So if you can, make it a day ahead: just wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature until you’re ready to eat it.