Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Friday, November 26, 2010

Apple Cake with a French Flair

Apples are one of the joys of the fall. Sweet or tart, crisp and juicy, red, green, yellow and pink, apples might just be the perfect food. They can be eaten out of hand without any preparation except being washed or you can make any number of dishes with them.

As my contribution to the Thanksgiving feast at a family dinner I chose to make Marie Helene’s Apple Cake. To serve the large group I doubled the recipe and baked it in a well-buttered 9-inch springform pan instead of in the 8-inch one called for in the recipe.

This a very French cake…simple but elegant for a dinner party. This apple cake is moist and mellow and not too sweet. It’s rich with butter and hauntingly fragrant with rum, vanilla and apple scents as well as that of butter. When you cut a wedge to serve, you can see the tender filling and the layers of apple chunks or slices. It really doesn’t need anything added but some cinnamon ice cream was suggested by Dorie Greenspan. The recipe came from her book, Around My French Table, which I borrowed from the library. I may have to ask Santa to buy it for a Christmas present…it is another winner, just like Baking: from my home to yours, a true masterpiece by Dorie Greenspan.

Hope you and all those you love had a great Thanksgiving if you celebrate that feast…or a fine fall day if you don’t. Either way, you might want to try this lovely, barely sweet cake the next time you feel in the mood for an apple dessert. Sweetie usually isn’t thrilled with apple dishes but he loved this cake! I used Fuji, Pink Lady, Honey crisp, and Braeburn apples.

The original recipe is given first. It serves 8. To make the larger cake, use the amounts listed at the end of the recipe, the larger spring form pan, and bake longer….for 80-90 minutes. After 50 minutes of baking in the center of the oven, I put the larger cake on the next lower rack, laid a sheet of foil on top, very loosely, and continued to bake it, checking at 65 minutes, 75 minutes, 85 minutes and finally seeing that it was done at 90 minutes. Your oven may vary, so checking it often (inserting thin knife to see if it comes out clean)is a good idea. You don't want to over cook the cake. Bon App├ętit!

Marie Helene’s Apple Cake
From Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (different kinds if possible)
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
½ teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons (1 stick)melted & cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in center. Generously butter an 8-inch round spring form pan. Place a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and put the spring form pan on it. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

Peel the apples. Cut them in half. Use a melon baller to remove the seed area and a sharp knife to remove the rest of the cores. Cut the apples into 1 -2 inch chunks, or use a food processor or knife to slice thinly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs until foamy. Pour in the sugar 3-4 tablespoons at a time and whisk a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour mixture and, when it is incorporated, half the melted butter. When that is incorporated, whisk in the rest of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber or silicon spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and move it around a bit with the spatula so that it’s evenish.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. The cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and slowly and carefully remove the sides of the pan. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the spring form pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled., then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Makes 8 servings. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature. Served with a spoonful of cinnamon ice cream is one suggestion, but it is lovely by itself.

The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

Ingredients for the larger cake:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 large apples
4 large eggs
1.5 cups sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sticks butter, melted & cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in center. Generously butter a 9-inch spring form pan. I lined the whole inside of the pan with heavy duty foil, snipping off any foil that came over the top of the pan, then I used the back of a spoon to smooth the foil as much as possible before generously buttering all of the foil. Place a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and put the spring form pan on it. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

Peel the apples. Cut them in half. Use a melon baller to remove the seed area and a sharp knife to remove the rest of the cores. Cut the apples into 1 -2 inch chunks, or use a food processor or knife to slice thinly. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs until foamy. Pour in the sugar 3-4 tablespoons at a time and whisk a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour mixture and, when it is incorporated, half the melted butter. When that is incorporated, whisk in the rest of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber or silicon spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and move it around a bit with the spatula so that it’s evenish.

Bake for 80 - 90 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean (Check starting at about 70 - 75 minutes and keep checking for doneness). The cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and slowly and carefully remove the sides of the pan. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the spring form pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled., then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Double recipe serves about 14. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature. Served with a spoonful of cinnamon ice cream is one suggestion, but it is lovely by itself.

The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.