Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sautéed Apple Cake

This cake should really be called procrastination cake because I created it when I was doing just that. I was supposed to be cutting the grass, a task I loathe, but I kept putting it off. Addison is my resident lawn maintenance engineer and with him back at school I am stuck with the job. I can whip up a cake or a batch of cookies with ease, but cutting the grass is out of my skill set. I'm truly terrible at it. I can't see where I have cut and I can't see where I need to cut. I either go over the same spot several times or miss whole chunks. As I survey my results I often find tufts of grass sticking up between my crooked rows. 

When my husband was alive we had a clear division of labor. I tended the garden and he took care of the grass. It created perfect harmony in our marriage. He actually enjoyed cutting the grass with the engineer in him making it a calculated and precise art. He would check to see which direction and pattern our neighbor had done and he would do the same. They both appreciated each other's devotion to a beautifully manicured lawn. I realize my attempts would not live up to his standard and so I put off cutting the grass as long as possible thus Sautéed Apple Cake was born. 

While my skills on our lawn don't measure up, when the cake was in the oven Maddie said the house smelled so good she wished she could bottle the scent. High praise from my darling daughter. She was eager to sample the cake, but knew she would probably have to wait while I photographed it. "Yes!" was her response when I finally handed her a piece. Such is the patience required of those who live with a food blogger. 

I have been baking with white whole-wheat flour a lot lately. It has a little more sustenance than regular all-purpose flour, but still allows for a delicate crumb in baked goods. All-purpose flour can be substituted if you wish. I used Fiji apples because I like their flavor and had a large beautiful bag of them. Fiji apples are quite sweet. (I also like to bake with Honeycrisp apples.) If you use a tart apple like a Granny Smith you might want to increase the granulated sugar in the cake batter by a
1/4 cup (50 g).

Because this is a rustic cake I did not peel the apples and I like the added flavor the peel provides. Feel free to remove the peel if you prefer. Sauté the apples over medium-high heat for a few minutes to caramelize the sugars and intensify the apple flavor. Adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the sautéed apples adds another depth of flavor.

A large rubber spatula makes folding the apples into the cake batter much easier. Fold just until incorporated to keep the cake tender and delicate.

Sautéed Apple Cake
makes one 9-inch (23-cm) cake

6 medium apples (Fiji, Honeycrisp, or any firm apple)
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 1/4 cups (315 g) white whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (160 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
confectioners' sugar to dust top

Generously butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch (23-cm) spring-form pan and dust with flour. (The cake can be made in a regular 9-inch round or square cake pan. It just won't be removed from the pan.)

For the apples - Cut apples in quarters, remove core. Cut each quarter in half and cut in thirds or bite-size pieces. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add apples and sauté over medium-high heat to lightly brown the apples, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sauté another 1-2 minutes until the cinnamon is fragrant. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the cake - Preheat oven to 350℉ (175℃). Stir together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Put butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until light about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat 4-5 minutes. Add vanilla extract. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk in 2-3 additions. Mix just until combined. Fold in cooled apples using a large rubber spatula. Spread in prepared pan.

For the topping - mix 1 tablespoon granulated sugar with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the cake. Bake until a tester comes out clean about 55-65 minutes.

If serving warm allow to cool 10-15 minutes before removing the ring of the spring-form pan. Otherwise allow to cool completely before removing the ring. Leave the cake on the spring-form base. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving. Store covered cake at room temperature for up to 2 days

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