It is a truth universally acknowledged, that… once you buy apples at the Gravenstein Apple Fair, cake baking should follow. And so it did. Not only did I bake my family’s favorite apple cake in its original version, but also in an upside down one. They are both equally delicious, and I only have a slight preference for one. Most of all, even in two versions, this recipe is really easy, and the resulting cake is intensely good and satisfying, especially eaten with a side of good vanilla ice cream.
I just had to open with that line, I am not sure why, but that is what popped insistently into my head when I sat down to write this blog post. Maybe because a friend has recently started reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time (she is not sure she likes it). I am sure they had apple cakes at the Bennet’s table.
Both versions of the cake require the same ingredients and process, with slight variations from each other, mostly with what you do with the apples.
APPLE CAKE – ONE RECIPE, TWO VERSIONS
yields: 1 9-inch cake
For the original version:
– 2 eggs
– 150 gr. (5.3 oz.) flour + extra for the cake pan
– 100 gr. (3.5 oz.) sugar + extra for dusting the cake
– 80 gr. (2.8 oz.) butter + extra for the cake pan and dotting the cake
– pinch of salt
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 80 ml. (ca. 1/3 cup) milk
– 3-4 apples
– powder sugar
– a handful of slivered almonds if desired
For the upside down version, you will also need:
– 3-4 cinnamon sticks
– ca. 150 gr. (ca. 5.2 oz.) brown sugar
It is best to start with all ingredients at room temperature.
You will also need:
1 9-inch diameter cake pan with removable bottom
1. Generously butter the cake pan, line it with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment as well.
2. Peel, core and cut the apples. If you are making the original version, you will slice the apples as in the image below.
If you are making the upside down version of the cake, you will have to peel 1 apple whole, and core it using the special apple-corer tool, then slice it horizontally in nice, round whole-apple (minus core) slices. The rest of the apples will have to be peeled, cored and cut into bite-size pieces as you see in the image below.
5. Here is where things change between the two versions. If you are making the original version, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and level it out evenly, then arrange the sliced apples in rows as shown in the images below until all the cake is covered. Make sure to place the slices of apple close together.
6. The next step is optional, and I only did it for the first time yesterday just because I thought it looked pretty. Arrange a few slivered almonds around the edges of the cake.
7. This step is not optional: dust the top of the cake with some sugar and dot with butter, then place in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes until golden (image below) and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool to room temperature, then remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a plate. Finish by dusting it with powder sugar.
If you decide to make the upside down version, once you have prepared the batter, this is what needs to happen.
5. Dot the bottom of the parchment-lined cake pan with butter, then coat with brown sugar. Arrange the round, whole-apple slices on the bottom along with the cinnamon sticks. The cinnamon sticks are merely decorative in this recipe, as there is no cinnamon powder added.
6. Add the bite-size apple pieces to the batter and mix well, then pour all of that on top of the prepared cake pan with the brown sugar-apple-cinnamon combination and level it out evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7. Place the hot cake on a rack to cool down to room temperature before removing it from the pan and inverting it onto a plate. There is no need to dust it with powder sugar.
Both versions are deliciously moist and, if you desire, can be served with a good quality vanilla ice cream.
Now, about that… I know there is an obsession with gelato, but as an Italian that is getting frustrated over what is called gelato outside of Italy, let me clear something up. That divine, creamy deliciousness called gelato that everyone obsesses over (with good reason) once they have had the real thing is only available in artisanal Italian gelaterie (ice cream parlors) in Italy. If it makes you feel better, even in Italy, ice cream that is bought from the freezer section at the grocery store is just like the good, creamy ice creams you buy in grocery stores right here in the U.S. – and likely anywhere else.
In the past few years, I have been sampling various brands of so-called gelato, and I am finding that, in an attempt to imitate that inimitable glorious creaminess of freshly-made gelato, manufacturers are going overboard with adding weird stuff and turning an otherwise good ice cream into something that, to my Italian palate, has a very unpleasant texture, and that I have tossed into the trash more than once.
My suggestion to you: just buy a good quality basic ice cream without any particular claims and enjoy. Anything that says organic and that lists very few basic ingredients (around five) is usually a good choice. Recently, I have discovered that one of the best ice creams is the 365 brand by Whole Foods. It is clean, flavorful, and deliciously creamy.
Of course, now I will have to go downstairs and have a slice of apple cake with ice cream to relieve the sweltering heat of this over-the-top hot summer day.
“Man, it’s a hot one, like seven inches from the midday sun… Well, I hear you whisper and the words melt everyone, but you stay so cool…”
Let me know if you are going to bake this cake and how you enjoy it. I bet it will become a favorite with your family, too.