Friday, February 11, 2011
Drunken Apple Cake
I return again to the comfort of apples to produce a very delicious cake I encountered at Leite’s Culinaria, a fun website I first became acquainted with years ago. If you haven’t visited there, take a moment to enjoy David Leite’s lovely beehive of culinary articles, discussion, recipes and other festivities.
And thank goodness for apples. I remember working in one particular restaurant where we always sadly acknowledged the end of spring and summer fruit with the first large shipment of apples to peel, core and slice. This ritual of apple preparation would last for months until the first appearance of local strawberries and raspberries. I personally never tire of the wonderful variety of apples and their delicious adaptation in pastry any time of the year.
This cake is all about incredible aromas and satisfying flavor. Cake batter and creamy apples are layered and baked into a delightful treat that will draw everyone with a nose for pastry to the kitchen. It’s called "drunken" cake because it has a good amount of rum. However, since the rum is diluted with an equal amount of water, the cake doesn’t have a pronounced flavor of alcohol but rather a really balanced and lovely earthy flavor. It has more of a cakey texture than the spellbinding Bolzano Cake due to a very different ratio of similar ingredients but it also has plenty of wonderful apple goodness. It’s a very delicious recipe to have among all your other fabulous apple cakes.
- Choose an apple that is not too sweet (the crew at Leite's Culinaria do not recommend Granny Smith). I used a mix of Braeburn and Gala.
- It’s very important to slice the apples very, very thin or they won’t cook through the way they should. I had a few pieces that still had a bit more texture than I would have liked, so try to slice them uniformly about 1/8" thin and you'll achieve a wonderful tender texture throughout the cake.
- I placed the cake pan on a baking sheet to catch any possible leaks as it baked.
- If you want to gild the lily, the cake would also be good with a dollop of whipped cream.
- The cake will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days.
- Note 2/17/11: I just got clarification from Leite's Culinaria that the cream is supposed to be added along with the apples to each fruit layer. I didn't do that so I bet the texture is really changed and even more delicious. I look forward to trying it again and would probably suggest piping the cake batter on top of the fruit layers rather than trying to spread it. I think that would make things a whole lot easier. I've amended the recipe to reflect this.
Drunken Apple Cake
adapted from Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
Serves 10 to 12
Drunken Apple Cake
For the filling
1 1/2 pounds tart apples (about 5 medium)
1/3 C sugar
1/2 C heavy cream
For the cake
2 C flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
5 1/2 oz unsalted butter (11 T) @ room temperature
1 C granulated sugar
5 T rum
5 T water
For the apple filling, peel and core the apples. Cut each apple into uniformly thin slices. Combine the sugar and cream in a bowl and add the apple slices. Set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9 1/2” springform pan with butter, flour and parchment. The pan should be at least 2 3/4” high to hold all the batter.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the butter mixture in 4 batches, scraping down the bowl and beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour in 4 batches. Combine the rum and water and add with the third batch. Add the last batch of flour and incorporate thoroughly but be careful not to overmix.
Scrape 1/3 of the batter (about 1 C) into the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Then spread half the apple and cream mixture on top, leaving a 1/2-inch plain border around the edge and smoothing out the slices so they’re fairly neat and level. If you have a pastry bag, scrape the remaining batter into it and pipe another 1/3 of the batter on top of the apples and all the way to the edge of the pan. Pour the remaining apple and cream mixture evenly on top of the batter and spread out the apples evenly. Then top the apples with the third and final batch of batter, piping it all the way to the edge of the pan, which will be very full.
Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours or until a tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then release the sides of the springform pan and place the cake on a wire rack to cool completely.