Have you ever had a bag of apples sitting around and you don’t know what to do with it? Well, I found myself with that problem a few weeks ago and I decided to get creative. The results were outstanding and I want to share.
Green apples are tops in my book. They bake well, they slice and eat well, and they are tangy, sweet and firm. As much as I like just plain apple, I was getting a little tired of them after four days and set about making a dessert with what I had left that was not a pie.
My thought process went something like this: I love apples. I love cake. I would explode with delight for apple cake. Now, here is where we ran into a problem. Most of the recipes I have used for apple cake are either dry as a bone or dense and hard. Neither good.
What to do? Why, make the perfect apple cake, of course! I gave it some thought and came up with a list of requirements.
1. The cake should be decidedly apple. There is something really disappointing about eating an apple cake that does not taste like apple. Some taste of cinnamon and vanilla with a hit of apple, others have the apples arranged on the top where they dry out while baking and lend little flavor to the overall cake. The problem, as I see it, is the amount of apple and how it is incorporated into the batter. Most apple cakes I have made call for one apple, max. ‘One apple’ is too vague a measurement. Some apples are giant and yield two cups of flesh while some are tiny and yield a 1/2 cup of flesh. Instead of a number of apples I used two cups of diced apple.
2. I wanted a cake that would remain moist for a few days. I have made cakes with apple in and on them that are moist just out of the oven, but once cool they dry out. In my house it is just me, my husband and our dogs (and dogs do not get cake unless mommy has an accident which, sadly, happens more often than I would like to admit) so eating a WHOLE cake, while tempting, is not an option. I considered using honey or a similar hygroscopic sugar, but I did not like the idea of a honey apple cake. So, rather than go with honey I went with a mixture of white and brown sugar, apple sauce and buttermilk. Brown sugar is moist, and adds moisture, applesauce is a good moistener and it adds apple flavor, and buttermilk adds additional moistness and a tangy flavor which I love.
3. I wanted the cake to be lower in fat. I am not a health nut by any stretch, however it does not hurt to find tasty cakes that are not loaded with fat. I did add butter to the cake, for flavor and because I believe that cakes do need some fat, but rather than a cup or butter, or even half a cup, I went with two tablespoons. Since I added applesauce and buttermilk I was able to get away with less butter with no decrease in tenderness or moisture. SCORE!
The resulting cake is moist, full of tender nuggets of apple, and it has fine crumb with a delicate texture. It may not look ultra glam by itself, but dust it with some powdered sugar, or top it with whipped cream and it is a superstar!!
So, now that you know how I came up with this I bet you want the recipe. I aim to please!
Apple Cake Serves 6
2 cups diced apple
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup natural applesauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grease a 8″ or 9″ square pan.
Peel, core, and dice the apples into small pieces. Set aside.
In a bowl mix the egg, butter, applesauce, buttermilk, spices, vanilla, and sugars until well combined.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. There will still be flour around the side of the bowl, and the batter will have lumps but if you make the batter smooth now it will be over-mixed when you add the apples, which you are about to do.
With a spatula fold in the diced apple, stirring the remaining flour into the batter.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the center is firm and the sides just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.
This cake keeps for up to four days at room temp if tightly covered. It also makes an excellent breakfast the next day.