Monday, November 20, 2017

Marie-Hélèn's Apple Cake, from "Around My French Table"

I am very fortunate to have found some very wonderful friends in my college years, and even more blessed that they have kept me around since. They are all strong women, wives, mothers, leaders in their churches and communities, and they are all kind. We don't live near each other anymore, but if I could choose my ideal dinner party, it would be at a table with these women.

We also share a passion for making and eating good food, so you can imagine the bevy of recipes that have been flying back and forth over the last week. From a vintage family recipe for cornbread dressing, and a winter greens gratin, to pumpkin bread pudding, and homemade 5 spice pumpkin ice cream.  

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite dessert recipes that always seems to find its way onto my menu. It has nothing to do Thanksgiving, but everything to do with fall. It is apple season after all. This was one of the first recipes I made from Dorie Greenspan's tome, Around My French Table.  
photo courtesy of Around My French Table - HMH
It is surprisingly simple to make, but the flavor of cooked apples spiked with a bit of rum,  evoke a sense of time, and love. I've added one small change to Mrs. Greenspan's recipe, and if she were to ever stumble across this note, I hope she and Marie-Hélène would forgive me.  Cardamom. That's it, just 1 tsp of cardamom* takes this cake from elegant simplicity to something a bit more rugged and sensual. Either way you make it, I promise, you will serve this cake to the people you love over, and over again.

-keep eating

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake
serves 8

    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1tsp cardamom*
    • Pinch of salt
    • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons dark rum
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  1. Directions: 

    1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
    2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together in small bowl.
    3. Peel the apples (or not... leaving the peel will result in a more rustic texture), cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
    4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they're foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it's evenish.
    5. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
    6. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it's fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
    1. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. 
    2. *******The cake will keep for about 2-3 days at room temperature.  I usually cover it with a tea towel in the evenings.

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