We had a surplus of conventional (non-organic) apples at home last week. The Eveleigh market re-opened on Saturday, so I thought I could be able to score a bag full of delicious organic apples*, so I had to figure out a way to get rid of the conventional ones. Ok, the truth is that I needed an excuse to bake a cake this weekend and freeze most of it to have a good supply of reheatable dessert.
I wasn’t particularly looking at cake recipes (there are tons in my file that haven’t been tested yet) but browsing through posts in Serious Eats the words “apple cake” and the photo in one post got my attention. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of butter for the topping plus 1.5 cups of vegetable oil (ouch!) for the cake. That’s a lot of fat, but also a lot of moisture, which is good. I’m not a big fan of vegetable oil due to the inflammatory properties of the omega-6 fatty acids they typically are full of, plus their excessive processing. I swapped the oil for 1 cup of semi-clarified butter (didn’t have the patience to do it properly) and half a cup of coconut oil, and omitted the 3 tablespoons of butter meant to be distributed between the topping layer and the cake.
The recipe also calls for a lot of sugar: 2 cups. Once again, sugar gives moisture to cakes, so I only reduced it by a quarter of a cup and used raw sugar instead of white caster sugar. Because I still thought it was too much sugar, I omitted the optional 3/4 cup of raisins listed in the recipe. Other ingredient substitution was whole wheat cake flour for all-purpose flour and a mix of Pink Lady and Red Delicious apples for the Granny Smiths. Of course, with Granny Smiths the cake would have been less sweet and more tart, but I would prefer to use an extra sweeter apple and cut down the sugar further.
The recipe calls for a 10-inch (25.4 cm) springform pan. Because the only one I’ve got is 8 inches (20.3 cm) in diameter, I had enough batter to bake two personal cakes in ramekins. The cake was good, moist as expected but still too sweet for my taste. Too bad I didn’t have a good espresso at the time, but I’ll make sure I do when I reheat the next slice.
Yield: 12 to 16 servings
Adapted from Serious Eats
8 to 9 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored (Granny Smith suggested)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cups whole wheat cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups raw sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus additional (optional) for dusting
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups clarified butter, coconut oil, or a mix of both
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°F and adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease 10-inch springform pan and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Thinly slice (about 1/4-inch thick) 3 apples and place in medium bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Arrange apple slices in 2 concentric circles in prepared pan with slices slightly overlapping.
Cut remaining apples into large chunks and pulse in food processor with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice until coarsely chopped; measure out 3 cups and set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk eggs. Slowly whisk in clarified butter/oil and vanilla extract. With rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with processed apples. Fold in nuts and mix just until combined.
Pour batter into pan and bake until toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Invert cake onto cooling rack and let cool 20 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan, then, carefully remove pan base with the help of a knife. Cool completely before serving. If desired, dust top of cake with additional ground cinnamon.
Cake may be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.