I want to thank those of you who left such thoughtful comments on my last post. I truly appreciate you sharing your own struggles and ideas with me. I love having such thoughtful, interesting, and intelligent readers!
I have started to feel a bit like June Cleaver lately. At 3:45 each day, Graham comes off the school bus from kindergarten and most of those days I open the door for him fresh off some baking project. I (sometimes) have an apron on and there is some kind of treat cooling on the kitchen counter. Graham (bless him) always takes a deep breath and says, “It smells so good Mommy!” I differ from good old June in that I have flour in my hair and my kitchen looks like a train just went through it at high speed.
My sweet Graham has a sense that I make special things. That maybe not everyone else’s mommy keeps a cookie jar full of homemade treats or has things like apple cakes lying around the house. He will tell me, unprompted, “You are a good cooker Mommy.” He is eager to try whatever I have out on the cooling rack and is heartbroken when I tell him it is for “friends” – students in my classes, Randy’s office mates, or catering clients. I do a lot of that type of baking, baking for “friends”, but I often just like to have a treat on hand for my husband, kids, and whoever happens to come over during the week.
I’ve been seeing a lot of apple cakes around the blogosphere lately as we prepare to say goodbye to them for a season or two. This has made me realize that I haven’t been seeing a lot of apple cakes coming out of my kitchen lately. I figured I had better remedy that while the weather is still fall/winter-esque. Truthfully, I love apple desserts and would have no problem serving them all year, but once the berries come start in June, apples start to look a little, um, homely.
I think of this cake as “have a little cake with your apples”. Actually, I hate that type of expression. Like when someone says, “Have a little french fries with your ketchup!” Who are they to say how much ketchup is the right amount for a french fry? In my world, it’s a lot. So who am I to say how much batter should be mixed together to hold all these apples? I quite like this proportion. Big chunks of apple and walnuts (I didn’t mind the nuts here) with a spicy cake batter keeping it honest.
The name of this cake is Apple Snacking Spice Cake which suits it perfectly. Not fancy, not really all that sweet. It would be great for a brunch or just for a special after-kindergarten treat.
I am including Chang’s instructions for turning the cake out onto a platter, but it was very clear to me that this cake was not going to leave my pan in one piece. I opted to forgo the heartbreak that is a broken cake and just serve this out of the pan.
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cake flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
½ kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups peeled, cored, and chopped Granny Smith apples (2 to 3 apples)
½ cup raisins
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped (I used walnuts)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. (Or, sift together into a medium bowl if using a hand-held mixer.) Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the granulated sugar and butter to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer several times to scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the butter is mixed in. Add the eggs and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Then turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for about 1 minute, or until the batter is light and fluffy.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, raisins, and pecans. The batter will be very stiff and thick. It will look like too many apples and not enough batter, but that’s okay. Scrape all of the batter into the prepared pan, then spread it evenly to fill the pan.
Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when you press it int he middle and the top is dark golden brown. (DT: Mine was done at 1 hour. Be sure to check!) Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Invert the cake onto a serving plate, lifting away the pan, and then invert the cake again so it is right-side up. Slice and plate, then dust the slices with confectioners’ sugar.
The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw overnight at room temperature before serving.