Monday, September 27, 2010
Happy Fall, ya'll! I realize that autumn arrived last week, but I'm just getting around to making a seasonal recipe. It was difficult to get into a fall mood because it was 90+ degrees around here last week. I don't feel like making warm and cozy meals when I'm running errands in a tank top and flip flops.
I just "discovered" yet another fantastic food blog, Pink Parsley. Josie at Pink Parsley has delicious recipes and killer food photos, so I've already bookmarked many of her postings. She's a big fan of Cook's Illustrated and she shared this cake recipe.
I've made a lot of apple desserts and many of them have been cakes. Aside from my apple cobbler, none of them have wowed me. This cake lived up to the hype. It's super moist, has the perfect balance of fruit and spice, and yields the perfect portion for a small family. I was skeptical to even call this a seasonal recipe since there are no fresh apples in the cake. All of the apple taste comes from apple cider, dried apples, and applesauce. It's actually better that there are no fresh apples in this cake. When I've baked cakes with fresh apples they ended up shrinking down and leaving holes all over the cake. This cake relies on a smooth puree of apple cider, dried apples, and applesauce, so there are no holes, just thick, moist cake.
My only complaint about this recipe is that it calls for special equipment: a food processor. I think you could puree the apples in a blender in a pinch.
We enjoyed this cake for dessert, but you could absolutely keep it around for breakfast. I think it would be fantastic with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just a cup of coffee.
from Cooks Illustrated by way of Pink Parsley
makes one 8-inch square cake
3/4 cup (2 ounces) dried apples, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup apple cider
1 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves I substituted ground ginger
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.
Bring dried apples and cider to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until liquid evaporates and the mixture seems dry; 15-20 minutes (it might take a little longer depending on your stovetop and the pan you use)
Sift flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a second medium bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Measure out 2 Tablespoons and set aside in a small bowl for the topping.
In a food processor, puree the dried apples with the applesauce until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Whisk together the egg and salt in a large bowl. Mix continuously with a hand held mixer, add the sugar mixture; beat until it is well-combined and light yellow, about 20-30 seconds.
Add the butter in 3 additions, beating after each. Stir in the applesauce mixture and vanilla to just combine. Add the flour to the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the batter. Only stir until it is just combined and evenly moistened.
Pour the batter into prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula, and sprinkle with remaining sugar-spice mixture. Bake until a wooden skewer comes out clean and cake has set, 35-40 minutes.
Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Run a knife along the edge to release from parchment. Life parchment to remove cake; cut into squares and serve.