Apples are abundant and delicious right now and I am still searching for ways to process and eat them. My son refuses any more apples in his lunch box...and so desperate times call for desperate measures. An Apple Cake must be made and eaten.
In my late teens I was just getting started in the cooking world and had no money to spend on cook books. I came across Anne Willan's Look and Cook Italian Country Cooking on special. It covered pasta making, braising tecniques, the preparation of artichokes, grapefruit granita etc...with clear and concise step by step instructions with pictures. When I brought it to work to make the following Cake, (I was a lowly garde manger), my chef made fun of it and me for using it. Ribbing was and is pretty standard in a professional kitchen and I have received my share, but the Cake turned out well and was made the special dessert of the week.
Not that there was any choice in the matter as no one else wanted to make the desserts. I had been especially proud at the time to be put in charge of desserts and didn't realize that the all male kitchen (with the exception of me!) thought desserts were women's work. Times sure have changed...as there are many great female Chefs and many talented male Pastry Chefs now and things seem a little more balanced to me.
(Adapted from Anne Willan's Look and Cook series)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 lemon
- 1 1/4 lb apples
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F. Brush a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with butter and dust with flour. Sift the measured flour with the salt and baking powder. Grate the lemon zest from the lemon.
- Peel the apples with the vegetable peeler. Cut the lemon in half and rub the cut surface of the lemon over the apples so that they do not discolor.
- With the point of the small knife, cut through the stem end of each apple, and remove the stem. Repeat with the flower end.
- Cut the apples lengthwise in half. With the melon baller, carefully scoop out the core and the seeds from the center of each apple half, leaving as neat a shape as possible.
- Set one apple half cut-side down. Cut the apple across into thin slices. Repeat with the other apples halves.Squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon halves over the apple slices.
- Using the electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and grated lemon zets and continue beating until light and crumbly, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the eggs one by one to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each additition.
- Gradually beat in the milk, and continue beating until the batter is very smooth. Sift in the flour mixture and stir gently with the rubber spatula until evenly mixed. Stir in half the apple slices.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.
- Arrange the remaining apples slices in concentric circles on top of the batter. Bake the cake in the heated oven, 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile make the glaze: heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes, without stirring, then let cool.
- The cake is done when it shrinks slighty from the side of the pan and the skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Brush the sugar syrup glaze on top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let the cake cool in the pan.