Dessert Recipe: Apple Cake
Deb Perelman's blog, Smitten Kitchen, was the first food blog I ever read. Last year, I was thrilled when she announced that she was publishing a cookbook and I immediately pre-ordered it. I thought it would never arrive! Ever since I ripped open the box, I have been leafing through the gorgeous pages bookmarking recipes I want to try.
This Apple Cake was the first recipe from the cookbook that I decided to make. I was asked to bring dessert to a family dinner and since apples are in season now, it seemed like the perfect dessert to make. Apples often take a back seat to pumpkin this time of year, so this dessert is a delicious way to showcase one of fall's most versatile fruits.
If you have ever gone apple picking or to a farmer's market, you may have noticed how many varieties of apples there are. It's mind-boggling! When baking or cooking with apples, it is important to keep in mind that there are some apples that are better for baking and cooking than others. Some apple varieties are best eaten raw for snacking or to put in salads, other varieties will soften easily and are perfect for making apple sauce or apple butter. Then there are other apples that will hold their shape throughout the cooking or baking process. Be sure to do a little research before using apples in a recipe so that you pick the right variety to get the right result.
For this Apple Cake, I used my favorite apple variety: Granny Smith. They are firm and tart and are perfect for baking. They softened just enough during the baking but still kept some of their firm texture. I especially love how this recipe has you place the apple chunks both in the middle and on the top of the batter, so that once the cake is flipped out of the pan, you can see the star ingredient both on top and studded throughout the cake. This is a fall dessert that I will certainly be making again. With Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and Kwanza around the corner, this Apple Cake would be a showstopper on any holiday dessert table.
Apple Cake Recipe
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
*Special Equipment* 10-inch tube or Bundt pan
- Nonstick spray (for coating the pan)
- 6 apples (such as McIntosh or Granny Smith)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups + 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup walnut halves, chopped (optional)
- Confectioner's sugar, for dusting the cake
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the tube pan thoroughly with cooking spray and set aside. You can also flour the coated pan with about 2 Tablespoons of flour if you want to be extra safe that the cake does not stick to the pan.
Peel, core, and chop the apples into 1/2-inch thick chunks and toss them with the cinnamon and 5 Tablespoons of granulated sugar. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, orange juice, remaining 2 cups granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The batter will be quite thick. Stir in the walnuts, if you are using them.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Transfer half of the apple chunks evenly over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and use a rubber spatula to even out the batter. Transfer the remaining apple chunks on top of the batter.
Bake the cake for 1 1/2 hours, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Begin checking the cake for doneness at the 1 hour mark. Once the cake is finished baking, remove it from the oven to a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before flipping the cake out of the pan and transferring to a serving platter. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.