February 27, 2015

Flavorful Apple Cake

flavorful apple cake

apple cake

This cake is an extraordinary apple cake – upon first bite, your palate shouts ‘apples’ then the flavor mellows to a deep apple and cinnamon spiciness.  If you make this apple cake, your family or friends will wonder how you infused the deep apple flavor in this cake.  They may say it tastes like apple pie but wonder at the tender cake crumb and the lack of apple chunks.  They may wonder if you used artificial flavorings but dismiss the notion after a second bite as the flavor is so real - it is like biting into an apple.    They may wonder if a Calvados or apple brandy was used but then notice the lack of a liquor zing.  This cake will keep people guessing.  This is not your ordinary applesauce spice cake where applesauce adds moisture and can even replace the fat but not much flavor.  The main event in this cake is the apples with a tender and just moist enough crumb.

The secret is cooking the apples in a low temperature oven until soft enough to puree then return the pureed apples to the oven to evaporate even more liquid and intensify the apple flavor.  Use a tart, flavorful apple but the best apples to use are the ones that have been long forgotten in the back of your vegetable crisper and are too soft to eat out of hand and may even have a slight ferment smell.  

I frosted my cake with a thin layer of smooth whipped cream frosting (recipe below) or a simple sifting of 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar is another option.  I halved the recipe featured in the photos, and made a single 9-inch round cake.

Flavorful Apple Cake
2 9-inch round cakes or 1 9-inch Bundt pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ sticks of  butter or 14 tablespoons, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ cups apple puree (recipe below-prepare ahead of time)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Butter and flour pan(s) and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed.  
Add eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add the apple puree and beat until fully incorporated.
Gradually add flour mixture and mix on the lowest speed.
Transfer batter into prepared pan (s) and smooth.
Bake for 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
Turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Apple Puree
4-5 pounds tart apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Peel, core and cut apples into large pieces.
Place on a 13 by 9 inch glass baking dish. 
Bake for 1 hour or until soft. 
Stir halfway through add up to a ¼ cup of water if the apples are drying out.
Drop temperature 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Puree baked apples in a blender; Cuisinart (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.
Return the apple puree back into the glass baking dish and spread evenly.
Bake, stirring and smoothing two or three times during the baking cycle to prevent a crust from forming on top.
Bake for 50-60 minutes. 
If there is too much moisture remove the foil halfway through, just make sure it doesn’t dry out completely.
You are making a dry applesauce that is thick and soft.
If it is too dry add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water at the puree stage.

Recipe adapted from Café Fernando

Smooth Whipped Cream Frosting

1 cup heavy cream
3-5 tablespoons granulated sugar (add more or less sugar to your preference)
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Chill your bowl and whisk of your stand mixer, in the freezer or refrigerator 15 minutes prior to mixing.
Add the cream to a mixer with the whisk attachment and set to a low speed*.
Add the sugar and vanilla to the mixture slowly.
Whisk for around 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture begins to ripple.
Turn the mixer off and finish whisking by hand, until the mixture starts to stiffen and sticks to the whisk.
Be careful not to whisk too hard or the frosting will become clumpy.

*This method of mixing your whip cream produces a thick, smooth and stable whipped cream that will not breakdown and become runny.  The low speed forms small air bubbles that create a stable structure in the cream.  Whipping cream fast creates large unstable air bubbles that collapse and run.   

flavorful apple cake


tender cake crumb


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