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The Apple Cake

February 14, 2018



I’ve forever been on the hunt for The Apple Cake. Like The Bran Muffin, the homemade version has always, invariably eluded me. (For a historical explanation, feel free to read this post about my moist apple cake, which has been kindly filling the void where The Apple Cake should be. Or you could try this pleasant, apple-rich version that will use up lots of apples but won’t blow your mind. I once made this absolutely beautiful and delicious meld between an apple tart and cake, though it isn’t exactly – or even remotely – The Apple Cake I’ve been looking for. Over the years, there have been countless other contenders that I’ve never bothered to post about [but had no problem eating] in the quest for The Apple Cake.)

So what is The Apple Cake I’ve been looking for? It’s moist and full of big chunks of fruit. It’s a little sweet but plain enough for breakfast and possibly topped with a simple crumble. Seems simple but it’s usually the simplest things that are the hardest to get right.

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When I stumbled across this recipe, called Heavenly Apple Cake, while looking for something (chocolatey) to make for Eric’s birthday, I couldn’t not make it: not only did it have perfect reviews, but it might, just might, be It. Plus, at 39 weeks pregnant, I’m listening to my cravings and all my cravings point directly to cake. After a bout of sinusitis that robbed me of tastebuds for a month, I’m back on the Eating All The Things Wagon, baking cake at a rate of about one every two days. So this would also be a little break from the lemon drizzle cake I’ve been really, really (really) into recently.

So how is it? It’s definitely a keeper. It’s a good, solid, everyday cake. Every time I walk into the kitchen, I can’t help but take another slice. It’s absurdly easy to make and clean up after – it’s a one-bowl, no-creaming, no-fancy-stuff wonder. You just mix some flour, sugar, baking soda and spices with melted butter, eggs, apples and brandy-soaked dates. That’s really it. The result is a very moist, very flavorful cake with a crunchy top and a soft, fruity middle. Its real beauty is in its adaptability – the apples can be substituted with any fruit, the dates with prunes or raisins, the brandy with any other liquid. The way I made it, with apples (and a pear), dates and brandy, it is really sweet and really boozy. If I sub the dates with raisins and the brandy with orange juice, I think it’ll be even better. Maybe I’ll switch out a little of the flour for almond meal next time I need to make this cake/tomorrow…

But is it The Apple Cake? You know, with some tinkering – and maybe a little crumble – it might just be.

UPDATE: I made this cake again (literally two days after the first time) and it’s nearly perfect. The recipe below now reflects what I did the second time around and what’s what I think makes as close to the perfect Apple Cake as I may ever find.

UPDATE No. 2: I have recently been using this recipe every time an apple cake craving hits (sooo about every other day). I make a ton of changes – I add about 1- 2 cups grated apple, reduce the sugar to 1 cup, reduce the oil to 1 cup, don’t add raisins or nuts, and just throw all the batter ingredients in a big bowl with an enormous quantity of roughly chopped apples and bake it. Sometimes I add a lot of chopped, grated and ground ginger. Is it better than the below recipe? I don’t know. But does it even matter?



Adapted very liberally from this recipe , aptly called Heavenly Apple Cake. It’s supremely easy to make – it’s just one bowl, no creaming, almost no clean up, an eyes-closed kind of recipe. I’ve made it three times now and no matter how I tinker – no spices, adding vanilla extract, adding some ground almonds and almond essence, adding a crumble on top – it’s been delicious. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar but I found that sickly sweet so recommend you reduce to 1 cup sugar (or even less if you prefer). I love my booze but I found the taste of brandy in the original way too pronounced, so now I orange juice and was really happy with it; feel free to soak the dates in another liquid, like apple cider, tea or apple juice. You could also add nuts if you’re in that. I also found the baking soda called for in the original a little on the metallic side, so substituted half with baking powder. I have a feeling this recipe is made to be messed with.

1/2 to 3/4 cups chopped dates

1/2 to 3/4 cups apple or orange juice (or brandy, as called for in the original recipe)

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar (any combo of white and brown is fine)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

some sprinkles of cinnamon and a little nutmeg (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 – 8 apples, roughly chopped (you can use pears)

1/2 cup (125 grams/1 stick) butter, melted

3 eggs, beaten

Place the dates in a small bowl and cover with whatever liquid you’re using. Add a little more liquid if they soak it all up.

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C. Using butter, grease a loaf tin, cake pan, or bundt pan (or combo…I used a standard loaf tin and a small bundt). I also recommend throwing a piece of parchment paper on the bottom.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Add the chopped apples, dates/dried fruit in their liquid, melted butter and the eggs; mix well. It’ll look like a ton of apples held together by a little bit of thick batter. Spread the batter into the prepared pan(s), and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour (the bigger your pan, the more time it will need). Don’t worry too much about over-filling the pans as the cake won’t rise much. It will be done when it’s a dark tan color, springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted comes out with crumbs on it but not gooey.

Serve warm with boozy whipped cream for dessert or at room temperature for breakfast or tea. Stays fresh for days.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Nav permalink
    May 24, 2018 10:55 am

    I think I’ve made this cake about 4 times now… it’s amazing!!

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