Sunday, March 4, 2012
When I think of fine dining images of fancy French cuisine come to mind, Souffle, Beef Tartar e, and Foie Gras. The reality is that while the French have some of the most exquisite cuisine it is not all fancy, or difficult to master at that. A prime example is Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake from Dori Greenspan's book "Around My French Table". Greenspan masterfully describes each dish and makes it completely approachable to any home cook by keeping her writing casual. It's as though you were literally sitting around her kitchen table sipping coffee and swapping favorite recipes. Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake is in fact just that, a recipe she got from a friend. Keeping with the spirit of sharing here is my adaptation of Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake from Dori Greenspan's book "Around My French Table".
The best part about this cake is that it will look like you spent hours on it but it takes just a few minutes to throw together. Happy Baking!
Almost Aloof Apple Cake
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (the original recipe calls for four different kinds if possible, mine were all Gala)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract*
1 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon orange juice*
8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
* Note: The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons dark rum and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Since I didn't have any rum on hand I used more vanilla and the orange juice though I would like to try it with the rum next time for a more complex flavor.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously butter an 8 inch springform pan and place in on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. In a small bowl combine the Flour, baking powder and salt. Core the apples and cut into 1-2 inch chunks (Greenspan calls for peeling the apples but I like to leave the skins on, it's your choice). In a medium bowl combine the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients to make a smooth thick batter. Fold in the apple chunks and transfer the batter to the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rake for 5 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the sides of the cake before releasing the springform and removing the pan. Allow the cake to finish cooling on the pan bottom then transfer to a plate or piece of wax paper to remove the bottom before finally transferring it to a pretty cake stand for serving.
This cake is delicious. The outside edges are gloriously golden and slightly caramelized and the center is smooth and almost custardy with lovely chunks of sweet apple that burst on your tongue like little bits of summer. It's the perfect dish to serve with coffee or as dessert after a light supper. I can see it also working very well with summer berries and it would be delightful topped with a vanilla cream sauce.
Whatever you do, don't forget to make it your own and enjoy!