Apple Cake, Two Ways
This fall I’ve made two excellent apple cakes, the recipes taken from two different food blogs (Smitten Kitchen and The Traveler’s Lunchbox). I was also fortunate to buy my apples at a local orchard. I think orchard apples look so much more vulnerable than glossy supermarket apples. But they are so pretty and taste so good. Especially surrounded by baked sugar, flour, and butter (lots of butter).
Well butter might not be exactly honest, because the fat in the first cake is actually vegetable oil. But hey, there is something about certain cakes – especially cakes baked in tube pans or bundt pans – that are so moist when vegetable oil is included. I’m not a scientist; I don’t understand these things; I just taste them.
We start by peeling the apples. Then removing the cores. And finally chopping the apples into chunk-sized pieces.
So that we can toss them with cinnamon and sugar.
Another great thing about this cake – beyond its taste – is that it does not require a mixer. Although I love my Kitchenaid (couldn’t live without it, really), I also love doing fewer dishes. Also, every time I use the mixer I seem to get flour and batter in every hard-to-reach crevice on the darn device. Just mix the liquid ingredients with sugar, and fold that into the the dry ingredients.
The resulting mixture reminds me of almond paste, sorta. Which is too thick to do what we want it to do.
Four eggs will lighten the load.
Which creates this silken batter.
Pour half of the batter into the pan and add half of the apples. Then repeat. The recipe called for a tube pan, but I like bundt pans better.
Bake it until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
Another variation I made from the recipe was to make a glaze for the cake. I put some powder sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, and then added some apple cider.
My glaze was imperfect. I wish it wasn’t so runny. But the cake was delicious, and I served it at a practice session for a conference paper that I gave in October. I’m adding this dessert to my fall repertoire. But it wasn’t the only apple cake I made this fall.
The second cake couldn’t be more different than the first. And it starts with thin slices of apples as opposed to chunks.
And put the slices somewhat evenly on the bottom of a tart pan. A tart pan. Trust me.
These apples are so good that they deserve a close up.
This cake is fancy. Fancy = vanilla bean. Vanilla bean and brown butter. What isn’t fancy is my cheap, cheap saucepan.
But be careful: there is about a five second window between brown butter and burnt butter. That is a window I have broken too many times. When the butter reaches that special point, transfer it to a bowl and stir in some sugar. Then eggs, then flour, then salt. Just don’t over stir; we’re not making bread.
You’ll wind up with a thick batter. Plop it on top of the apples and smooth it across the top. Evenly.
Then plop the whole thing into an oven.
Until it looks like this. Which is beautiful. And no, there are no sliced pieces of either cake. I’m a horrible food blogger. These cakes are quite different. The first, a traditional bundt cake. The second, an untraditional, delicate cake. Their similarity: deliciousness.