Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake
This may be obvious, but I like to bake. I find it soothing and rhythmic and, like so many of the finer things in life, it only gets better with time. And though my perfect afternoon alone would probably involve butter, flour and sugar, it goes without saying that the real reason I like to bake is that I love baked goods.
A sweet tooth, low blood sugar, call it what you will. But if I do not get dessert before bed?
Let’s just say this is the dog begging you to please take me home with you.
Mmmm mmmm ’cause Mama loves her sweets. Tonight, per esempio? Two cookies and a piece of cake, and as I type I’m contemplating another. My mother-in-law and her son (and, I assume, all you dentists out there) tell me it’s bad to indulge so often. (This, you may find relevant, is coming from a woman who eats ice cream for lunch. Every day.)
I have all sorts of cockamamie justifications such as “but I don’t eat candy!” and “I would never scorn a decent vegetable!” and “my teeth are [mostly] still intact!” and “There’s fruit in there!” But I know deep down that it’s truly a sickness. A very delicious sickness. And maybe if we work together I’ll pull through. Until then, I’ll keep chronicling my relationship with my sweet tooth one recipe at a time.
In an effort to prove just how committed to recovery I really am, let me tell you about this cake I just baked!
With only 3/4 cup of flour and 4 large apples, it is, by all measures, more apple than cake. In fact, I think lots of people, not just my serial cake-for-breakfast eater husband, would agree it’s perfect for the morning.
Marie-Hélène’s apples with cake has been all over the food bloggosphere (which, since joining, I’ve rarely perused) lately, and once I saw it I knew it had to be mine. It’s ridiculously simple to make – no whipping, creaming, folding or beating. And the result is a very plain but very pleasant moist apple cake with a hint of rum. I think it’d be perfect with a little scoop of vanilla (or maple, or cinnamon, or cardamom) ice cream. It’s not going to blow you away like this cake or this one, but sometimes you just want something simple, quick and satisfying.
I know I do. Every night.
MARIE-HÉLÈNE’S APPLE CAKE
This is a Dorie Greenspan recipe from her new book; printable recipe from Epicurious (which I adpated every so slightly). Takes about 45 minutes in total (including peeling the apples) and makes a 1″ high cake that serves 8 – 10.
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds; I used 1 pear)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (115 grams / 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Generously butter an 8″ (I used a 9″) springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
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 (as I used a larger dish mine cooked in 45 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.
Careful: the amount of apples in the cake means it’s tricky to get it out of the pan.
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. I wouldn’t recommend removing the bottom of the spring form pan.