A few weeks ago I made this apple spice bread. While I fell in love with the spices, I was a tad disappointed that I couldn't really tell there were apples in the bread. What I wanted was a moist, delicate, apple flavored dessert. I wanted a dessert with chunks of soft, sweet apples- then melt in your mouth as you bite into them. I wanted a dessert that satisfied my sweet tooth without giving me a cavity at the same time.
What I wanted, apparently, was this cake...
I saw this recipe just a few days after making that bread, and instantly knew the giant apple chunks in this cake would be delicious.
The apples were silky smooth. The top baked up with this tender crust to it. The cake was delicate, moist, and studded with cranberries and walnuts. And yet the flavors just all melded together. I couldn't distinguish "apple" or "cranberry"-- just "delicious."
Apple Cake, adapted from Food Gal (from Flour, by Joanne Chang)
Note: Feel free to use 3/4 tsp apple pie spice in place of the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups peeled, cored and chopped Granny Smith apples (2 to 3 apples)
1/2 cup raisins, or dried cranberries, mulberries, etc
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped, or 1 cup walnuts or any other nut
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 10-inch round cake pan. (I like to spray my cake pan with Pam baking spray [the kind with flour in it], line with a wax or parchment paper circle, then spray again with Pam baking spray. Alternatively, you can butter/flour the pan.)
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. (Or, sift together in a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer.) Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Add granulated sugar and butter to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer several times to scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the butter is mixed in.
3. Add eggs and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Then, turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for about 1 minute, or until batter is light and fluffy.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, raisins and pecans. The batter will be very stiff and thick. It will look like too many apples and not enough batter, but that’s okay. Scrape all of the batter into the prepared pan, then spread it evenly to fill the pan.
5. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when you press it in the middle and the top is dark golden brown. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Invert the cake onto a serving plate, lifting away the pan, and then invert the cake again so it is right-side up. Slice and plate, then dust the slices with confectioners’ sugar, if using.
6. The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.