Sunday, September 16, 2012

K's Apple Tree

If you read back a few years, you can learn that K wanted an apple tree. The tree we ended up with was espaliered, with branches of 6 different varieties: Gala, Fuji, Gravenstein, Jonathan, Braeburn and one tagged as Red M that I think is McIntosh.  The tree continues to thrive in its wine barrel planter, despite my somewhat embarrassing fear of pruning. This year all of the branches produced fruit except the Gravenstein and we had our largest harvest ever--22 apples! That may not seem like many to those with large trees, but to us it was a bumper crop. 

To celebrate, K decided she wanted to bake something with the apples. The question of course, was what. Her first thought was "Anakin's Apple Crisp" from The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes, but as we make crisp rather frequently due to an excess of backyard blackberries, she wanted something a bit more special. But, have no fear Star Wars fans, a recipe from that book will be coming to this galaxy quite soon.

At K's request, I asked Twitter and ended up with suggestions ranging from apple dumplings to apple galette and a really appealing sounding apple pie cake. After considering the recipes, K decided to go back to a favorite we had not made in a while: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake from Around My French Table. In the past our experiments with this recipe have included a bourboned cranberry version and one with Spirited Apricots. This time, K stayed closer to the original recipe, with a few changes. She reduced the sugar, opted for almond extract over vanilla (from K: "I like the way it smells") and rather than dark rum I opted for some cranberry infused bourbon that I had all but forgotten in the back of the fridge.

Apple Cake Fall 2012

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar (The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 

2 Tablespoons cranberry infused bourbon (The original recipe calls for dark rum)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (The original recipe calls for vanilla)
4 cups backyard apples, cored and cut into approx 1 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

Heavily butter a 8-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk until blended. Whisk in the bourbon and almond extract. (Note: K insisted that I be the one to add the bourbon. She also insisted that I include this note.)
Whisk in half the flour mixture, followed by half the butter, followed by the remaining flour and butter. Continue whisking until well combined.
Add the apples and stir gently with a rubber spatula until fully combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and use a rubber spatula to even it somewhat.
Bake for one hour or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan.
Dust with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream and serve. 

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