When you are a cookbook addict and you have more than your fair share of vegetarian cookbooks, what do you do? If you are me, you start buying baking books.
I don’t remember when I bought The Greyston Bakery Cookbook and I don’t remember why. It is a fairly unassuming looking book. It doesn’t feature any of the gravity defying desserts that seem so tempting from other gorgeous books I have been fooled into buying. In a moment of unremembered inspiration, I brought home this sweet book and am I ever glad I did.
In spite of the draw toward architectural and difficult desserts, the truth is that I like my sweets on the simple side. I like the challenge of making something involved but if I am going to sit down and eat a treat, simple is better for my taste buds. I don’t mean simple as in plain; I mean simple as in unfussy.
If you are with me, this cookbook is a treasure. So often when I start opening my baking books looking for that elusive just-simple-but-still-delicious cake (like this one), I start to lose interest as page after page of time consuming sweets go by. Last night I had some friends coming over and, after our vacation, I was ready to bake. But I definitely wanted simple. I first picked up Tartine, the dessert book I chose for my Top 10 Desert Island cookbooks. Nope, nope, and nope. Then I remembered this book. Yep, yep, and yep. Grapefruit Yogurt Cake, Orange Poppy Seed Cake, Chocolate Obsession Cake. All tempting, all relatively simple.
I decided on this Apple Torte. I was a little nervous about it turning out. I have made some of the bar recipes in the book and a fantastic cookie recipe but never any of the cakes. It could have been a mess. It was not a mess. In fact, I think it was amazing. The contrast in textures of the crunchy crust, the smooth cream cheese filling, and the soft but not mushy apples was amazing. And taste. The buttery richness of the crust, the fruity sweetness of the jam, the tang of cream cheese and the spiced and maple syruped apples was sublime. This is coming from an avowed chocolate lover – it is a terrific dessert. I’m officially changing that Top 10 list to include The Greyston Bakery Cookbook.
One Year Ago: Broccoli and Red Pepper Pie
Adapted from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook
Makes one 9″ Cake, 10-12 servings
Although this recipe is found in the cake section of the book, it is really more like a tart.
For the Crust
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
½ cup apricot jam
For the Filling
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
For the Topping
3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup slivered almonds
Prepare the crust:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9″ round springform pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Using a fork or your fingers, work in the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the mixture onto the bottom and 1″ up the sides of the prepared pan. Pierce the bottom several times with the tines of a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pastry is set and golden. Cool on a wire rack. When the pastry is cool, spread the apricot jam evenly over the bottom of the crust and set aside.
Prepare the filling:
Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until light. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Spread the filling over the prepared crust.
Prepare the topping:
In a large bowl, combine the apples with the sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cardamom. Arrange the apples in concentric circles over the filling.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Remove the torte and sprinkle with the almonds. Put the torte back in the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes. Release and remove the pan sides. Cool completely and then refrigerate until ready to serve.
(DN: I didn’t do this, but I would recommend brushing the apples with warmed apricot glaze. It will make them shine. Also, I had LOTS of leftovers which I refrigerated and they still look great, so I would imagine you can make this a day ahead. Much more than that and the apples will start to look tired.)