Friday, September 28, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Spice Cake

With the onset of fall, this is the season for apples and spice.  It also feels like a good time to invite the wholesome goodness of whole wheat flour.  With a chill in the air and evenings soon scheduled to arrive a bit earlier, there's plenty of reason to warm up the kitchen with the scent of a spice cake baking in the oven.

Baking with whole wheat flour isn't what it used to be.  With access to better quality flour and more balanced ingredient ratios found in today's recipes, whole wheat pastries no longer suffer from being too heavy, too dense and too dry.  And that means the flavor is much improved as well.

Thankfully, apple cakes have many lives.  There are so many great versions and traditions to choose from.  Here the apples are baked in familiar upside down fashion with brown sugar.  Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and molasses lend character and complexity to the cake batter along with the flour.  This is one way to welcome the oncoming fall harvest.  If you're like me, there can never be too many apple cakes.

Bench notes:
- I used Fuji apples.
- The ground wheat germ in whole wheat flour contains oil that can become rancid over time.  Whole wheat flour will keep 1 - 3 months at room temperature.  For longer storage, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag in your refrigerator.  It will maintain good quality for about 6 months in the refrigerator and up to 12 months in the freezer.  If you store it in the freezer, bring it to room temperature before use.  The very cold temperature of frozen flour will discourage the baking properties of yeast or baking powder.
- I like King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for its superb flavor and easy availability.  It's milled from the hard red spring wheat of the northern Great Plains and uses 100% of the wheat berry, which provides the full flavor and nutrients of the bran and the wheat germ.  I think it's the best of its kind.
- Now is a good time to take stock of your spice collection.  Check to see if you have everything you need for holiday baking and whether your spices are fresh.

Whole Wheat Apple Spice Cake
Serves 8 - 10

2 apples
1/4 C dark brown sugar, packed
pinch cinnamon

1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
pinch nutmeg
1/2 C canola oil
3/4 C dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 C molasses
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 t vanilla
1/2 C buttermilk @ room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9" x 2 1/2" cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.

Peel, core and cut apples into 1/2" slices.  Place in a bowl and toss with the brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.  Set aside.

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together.

Whisk the oil, brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla together until thoroughly blended.  Add a third of the flour mixture alternately with half the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until completely combined and there are no streaks of flour.

Arrange the apples in the prepared pan along with their juices.  Pour the cake batter evenly on top of the apples and gently tap the bottom of the pan on the work surface to release any air bubbles.

Bake 28 - 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Place a platter on top and invert the cake.  Carefully remove the parchment and cool completely.


Elly McCausland said...

This is beautiful - I love the golden caramel colour of the apples on top and the dark crumb. Perfect for autumn!

tom@morethanpepper said...

looking at this before the gym is not a good idea

pastry studio said...

Hello, Elly! The new season has arrived!

tom, just think of this cake as a motivator. Or something.


Y said...

Made this yesterday. Delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

pastry studio said...

Y, you are a person of action! Thank you so much for your lovely feedback. Here's to a grand fall season!

Kitchen Afternoon said...

I made apple coustades - a phyllo shortcut, and have my eye apple walnut cake for later in the week.

pastry studio said...

Kitchen Afternoon - YUM, those sound fantastic. Apple pastries are impossible to resist!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Can you please tell me when you add the two eggs? thanks.

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, thank you so much for pointing out my omission. Good grief!

The eggs get added along with the sugar and other wet ingredients. I've amended the recipe to read:

Whisk the oil, brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla together until thoroughly blended.

Apologies for the oversight.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for amending the recipe. I made the wrong decision to add the eggs to the buttermilk. I baked my cake and it sort of fell in the middle (after removing from the oven). Do you think that was because of my mistake of when I added the eggs?

pastry studio said...

I'm so sorry that you had this outcome. No, it shouldn't have affected the cake in this way as long as everything was thoroughly mixed. And since this is an oil cake rather than a butter cake that requires creaming, mixing is an easier task.

When cakes sink in the middle, these are the usual suspects:

1. oven temperature too low or not baked long enough.
2. improper mixing
3. too much sugar or too much fat

Was the cake baked through in the middle?

pastry studio said...

Oh, wait a second. I see, you added the eggs combined with the buttermilk. That may have had some effect because you want the eggs to completely emulsify with the oil and sugars. Please accept my apologies, I'm so sorry the recipe instructions weren't clear.

Anonymous said...

the very middle of the cake was a little too moist, but the rest of the cake is great. thanks again for your help.

Anonymous said...

I loved this cake, thank you so much! I almost tripled the apples though, and added an extra layer of sliced apples in the middle.

pastry studio said...

Oooo, that sounds delicious. The more fruit, the merrier! Thanks for the suggestion.