Sunday 29 December 2013

French Apple Cake

Ahhh, the holidays...that time of year when you strap your children into fast moving vehicles and hope for the best but expect the worst. 

We travelled down to Bristol, where, despite many threats to the contrary, Father Christmas visited and heaped gifts upon our little people. My husband and I didn't fare too badly, gaining two kitchen appliances: a slow cooker and an ice cream maker. I'm afraid neither of them is going to feature here today, as I have not yet opened the manuals on either of them, but I did get another gift that will appear in this post: apples!

A friend of ours gave us a bag of apples from her dad's garden and told us to put them to good use, so I thought it was time to make a recipe I had made once before: French apple cake. Last time I made it, the result was like a mix between bread pudding and cake, with lots and lots of soft apple bound by the cake mixture. So it was with quite a bit of enthusiasm that I got these things together:

There was butter too, but I forgot to put it in the shot. It was kind of scabby looking butter with remnants of toast on it, so maybe it's for the best that it missed out on this group photo. The recipe called for a greased 8 inch round, removable base cake tin. Last time I used a 9 inch springform instead, but this time I thought I'd try my 8 inch tart tin, as it was closer to the recipe's request. The paper was left over from making cookies a couple weeks ago.

Next I peeled and chopped the apples into fairly sizeable chunks. They smelled kind of funny, almost like playdough, but when I tasted a piece it was fine. Weird.

Then into one container went some flour, baking powder, and some salt. This container is meant to be a separator jug for making gravy (an insert goes in the middle), but I don't like things in the kitchen to only have one use, so I'm using it as a general jug too.

Then into another bowl went a couple of eggs. Having children has meant I have not learned to crack eggs one-handed with my left hand while I juggle a child on my right hip.

The instructions said I should whisk the eggs until foamy. I decided this was foamy enough for me.

Then in went sugar.

Which I whisked while the scissors tried to escape. So THAT'S why they are never in the drawer when I look for them...

In went rum and vanilla.  My son said the rum would make the cake rumdiddlyumptious. I think he's been reading too much Roald Dahl lately.

By this time, an expectant crowd had gathered, with cups of tea at the ready.

So in went the flour mix.

Then some melted butter.

Then flour mix...

Then melted butter...(notice a pattern here?)

Then flour mix followed by the apples.

As you can see, the mix was fairly apple heavy.

I poured it into the tin and quickly discovered that, er, there was a bit too much mix put in. Oh well...I just shoved a tray underneath to catch any overflow (I didn't think there would be a huge rise on it as it is mostly apple).

Sure enough, though there was some spillage, it wasn't a massive amount, so the cake came out of the oven looking like this:

The spillage did mean it wasn't easy to remove the cake from the tin. Well, nothing a good dose of icing sugar can't cover up!

Truth be told, I had slightly underdone it in the middle, in spite of my knife check, but no one seemed to mind. It may have been because I used a bit too much apple - the original recipe called for three "very large" apples, so I used 4 medium large apples and hoped that would be right. So if you try this recipe, do have a good dig round in the middle to make sure it's all done - it would be hard to over-cook this baby, really, as it has so much apple in it to keep it from drying out. 

And tomorrow, I might even attempt making some ice cream. My husband took out the manual and told me I need to chill the maker's bowl overnight before we do, so it is sitting in my freezer now. I have a feeling some ice cream would be very nice with a heated slice of French Apple Cake...

recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan, stumbled upon at Kirbie's Cravings

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3 very large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line an 8-inch round pan with removable bottom with baking or parchment paper. Wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil.

Sift and whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

Whisk the eggs in another bowl until foamy, then add the sugar. Whisk until smooth and incorporated. Add the vanilla and rum. Mix well.

Alternately add the flour and butter in two batches. Mix well and gently after each addition to have a smooth batter.

Fold in the apples with a spatula. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula.

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. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Since the cake is really moist, it is best to keep it uncovered or lightly covered at room temperature. I have also found out that it tastes better if you heat it quickly in the microwave for a few seconds before eating.

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