FRENCH APPLE CAKE
Summer is turning to Fall around the Northeast and that means all those good cooking apples (the Cortlands, Jonagolds, and Winesaps) are down at Union Square Market and are all a buck a pound. Fresh off our Paris trip, the smells of baking bread and tartlets wafting through Rue Mouffetard are fresh on the brain and I started searching for something delicious and French to make the house smell nice while I catch up on the Impeachment inquiry :) I landed on the French Apple Cake. Cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan, wrote a popular version of this recipe in her book Around My French Table. She may have popularized it but the simple mixture of tender chunks of apples bound together by whipped butter, eggs, and sugar is nothing new...or French for that matter. The Jews, Germans, Russians, Swedes, Norwegians all have their own version of practically the same thing that date back centuries. It's just one of those recipes. I tried Greenspan’s version but I didn't have vanilla extract so I subbed in almond extract and added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. I also didn’t have any rum at the house so I used Applejack brandy instead, which seems to make more sense anyway. So, a little less French and little more Italian, the way my Mom would probably make it. I also subbed in spelt flour for regular flour. I never get why more folks don't bake with spelt. It's similar to wheat or barley in that it contains gluten but it’s a light grain, way less dense, much nuttier and without the bitterness. Yes, it contains gluten but it's not processed so its got all its good nutrients and fiber. I also did a version using half spelt half buckwheat and it worked just as nicely (also came out a bit darker in color and had a more rustic vibe). Since spelt is a little more available for this recipe, I'm using spelt but if you can find it, try subbing half the buckwheat flour in and see for yourself. But of course, you can use regular ol’ flour, is that’s all you have on hand. This should be in every home cook’s arsenal. It’s the simplest recipe to throw together, all things you would have in your pantry and your house will smell heavenly. Bon appetite!
Prep and cook time: 1 hour
Tools: 9 inch springform pan and spatula
1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon / big “pinch” of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla extract)
3 tablespoons apple brandy (I like Applejack) or rum
3 large baking apples, peeled, cored. Cut 2 apples into 1/2 inch cubes, and grate 1 apple.
Confectioners suger (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust rack to the center of the oven.
2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
4. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer or whisk, beat the eggs until foamy.
5. Blend in the butter and the 2/3 cup sugar and beat for a few minutes until light and frothy.
6. Beat in the brandy and almond extract until everything is incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary with a spatula.
7. Add the flour mix and keep mixing until just combined. Fold in the apples into the mix with spatula and stir.
8. Scrape the batter into your pan and give the spatula a once-over to even out the top. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar on top.
9. Bake for 40 mins on the middle rack.
10. Allow to cool and dust with confectioners sugar. Best when served warm or at room temp with homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
*Cake will keep frozen for up to 3 months.