Here’s something easy and delicious for you to make this weekend. You might even have all the ingredients on hand.
It’s a light, flavorful, not-too-sweet cake which is comprised mostly of apples held together by an egg batter. I suppose you could think of it as an apple quiche. It’s very pleasing, and versitile, too–it would be a good addition to brunch, or an afternoon snack, or, if dressed up with ice cream or whipped cream, it would be a fine dessert. This morning, I ate the leftovers for breakfast.
The recipe comes from The Paris Cookbook, by Patricia Wells, which I’ve mentioned before.
The key to this recipe is good apples. The better the apple, the better the cake. Wells prefers acidic cooking apples for this recipe, recommending Cortland, Gala or Gravenstein. But she says sweeter cooking apples, like Jonagold, are good too. I used Fujis because that’s what I had on hand.
A 9 inch springform baking pan. (These are pans with sides which open up and disengage from the bottom.) If you don’t have one, you could make it in a regular round cake pan, or even a square one. It’s just that the final product is a little sticky, and the springform helps with a clean release. You’ll lose points for presentation if you have to dig it out of a regular pan, but it will still taste mighty good.
The cake batter:
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup whole milk
Apples, about 2 pounds worth. Wells says that’s about 4. I found it took 5 Fujis to add up to 2 lbs.
Peel and core the apples, cut them in half and slice the halves into thin slices.
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Put it together:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
Butter the pan heavily and set it aside.
In a big bowl, combine the batter ingredients in the order listed. The dry come first in the list. Fork or whisk them around to blend them before you add the liquids. I cleared a well in the dry ingredients, added all the liquid ingredients (vanilla, eggs, oil, milk) into the well, then used the whisk to draw the dry stuff into the liquid, bit by bit, until I had a nice smooth batter. But really, this isn’t fussy cooking so I suspect you could just dump it all together at once and stir it up.
When the batter is smooth, add in the apple slices and toss until they’re coated.
Pour the this apple batter mix into the greased pan and sort of jiggle it around until the apples are all lying more or less flat.
Put it on the center rack of the 400 degree oven. Bake this until the top turns golden, and the batter doesn’t look liquid anymore. You should be able to touch the surface and not encounter wet batter. Wells calls this “fairly firm.” She says this should take 25 minutes. For me, it took 35 minutes, but my oven may not have been sufficiently preheated.
While you’re waiting for it to bake, mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl and have that standing by.
After 25 minutes or so, when the cake reaches this dryish, fairly firm state described above, take it out of the oven and pour the topping over the surface, then put it back into the oven to finish.
Finishing takes about 10 minutes. What you’re waiting for is for the surface to turn a yummy deep golden brown, perhaps a little dark on the high points (like a well cooked quiche), and again, for the surface to dry and firm up. When it’s not quite done you’ll still be able to see liquid bubbly stuff broiling away at top. When it’s ready, it will mostly dry up, and the cake will feel firm when pressed.
(Edit: Comments have helped me remember that while 10 minutes was the recipe’s rec’d time, it took longer for it to brown–more like 15. Don’t pay as much attention to the clock as to color, and the dryness of the surface.)
Take the cake out, let it cool for at least 10 minutes, then ease a knife all around the sides. The browned sides of this thing are my favorite part, so be careful to keep that crusty stuff intact. It also looks nice. After you finish loosening the edges, release the springform.
This cake is meant to be served at room temperature. Wells specified that it should be served in thin slices, but we didn’t really follow that advice. It’s more like we each took half.