Apple Cake

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I saw this post of Food52 earlier this week and was intrigued that a simple cake would have such an amazing response from readers of a food blog. So, I planned on baking it on the weekend to see what all the fuss was about. Then, I started hemming and hawing about whether or not I actually needed a cake lying around because I’d probably eat most of it.

When I went to get a haircut on Saturday morning, my hairdresser mentioned that she baked an apple cake the previous day. I thought it was a little bit of a weird coincidence, but wrote it off as “it’s just fall, and there are apples/pumpkins everywhere.” Then my wife and I were walking to breakfast when I received a text from my mom, “Do you have the apple cake recipe? I can’t find it.” Unreal. So, I said that I was thinking about baking this apple cake I saw posted on Smitten Kitchen, and she asked, “Does it have OJ in it?”.

It seems that everyone (and their mom, literally) has been using the same apple cake recipe, or some derivation of it, forever. Given that everyone else was baking apple cakes this weekend (ahead of Rosh Hashanah, I suppose), I felt like I needed to join in the fun, too. Plus, my mom and I would be able to show off competing apple cake pictures to see who baked it better.

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I followed the original recipe except for 2-3 things. I used 8 McIntosh apples because the apples at the grocery store were on the smaller side and I wanted to be sure I had enough for two layers in the tube pan. Consequently, I used a little more cinnamon and sugar. Once I cut the apples and mixed with the cinnamon and sugar, I let the apples macerate in the refrigerator for an hour or two to let them soften/breakdown and extract some juices. Lastly, I used a mix of granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and dark brown sugar in the cake batter because I thought it could use a little bit more flavoring given there were no spices on the ingredients list.

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I thought this was a good, right down the middle of the fairway cake. It had nice apple cinnamon flavor. It was moist with a surprisingly addictive crust. And, as advertised, it became even more moist and flavorful the next day. Furthermore, the recipe appears to be quite adaptable to other types of fruit, ingredients, and pan sizes so I’m going to file it away for future baking occasions. It does take some time, though, from start to finish. From the preparation of the apples and other ingredients (0.5-1.5 hours, depending on whether you choose to macerate) to the baking time (1.5-2 hours) to the cooling time (~2 hours), the cake likely takes 4-6 hours. But given that the cake is even more moist and flavorful on the second day, it’s highly recommended to bake in advance.

APPLE CAKE
Based on recipe found here.

INGREDIENTS

Apples:
6-8 apples (McIntosh, or a mix – I used 8 medium-sized McIntosh)
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
5-7 tbsp. (65-90 g) mix of granulated sugar, light/dark brown sugar

Cake:
2 3/4 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cups (200 g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (150 g) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack to middle position. Generously butter a tube pan. Set aside.
  2. Peel, core, and chop apples into 1″ chunks.
  3. In a large bowl, toss apples with cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
  4. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla, and eggs.
  6. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until incorporated.
  7. Pour half of batter into prepared pan, followed by half of the apples. Pour the remaining batter over the apples, then arrange the remaining apples on top.
  8. Bake 90 minutes (mine took ~90 minutes, but mom’s took longer), or until tester comes out clean (make sure to test top layer separately).
  9. Let the cakes cool completely before unmolding. When ready, invert cake onto a plate, then re-invert onto a serving platter.
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