Once again I bow to smittenkitchen.com. It’s simply one of the best food blogs I’ve ever come across. Not only is the food wonderful but more importantly the recipes work. Too often you’ll find recipes in books, and online, that look promising but are infact badly researched, written and tested. The result is a mess. A disaster. And it’s enough to put you off cooking for life. But these recipes are spot on, the readers give their views – of which there are many – and the author of the blog isn’t afraid to go back and make changes, update her recipes, make them better. Check it out. So much delicious food resides in her archive. Anyway, to this apple cake.
As I’ve said in earlier posts I’ve been doing alot of baking over the last two months. Its an area I’ve assiduously avoided over the last 20 years. Desserts were never my thing; cakes, tarts, pastries. However, over the last two years all has changed. My sweet tooth has returned. And so I’m making my own. I began with cakes and am currently in a pastry phase. But more of that shortly. For now I give you a delicious German classic, Versunkener Apfelkuchen, or, as we’d call it, sunken apple cake. This one has a wonderful salted honey glaze.
The Germans love their apple cakes and this one is often called a Mittwochskuche (Wednesday cake) because it can easily be made during the week when time is short. What makes it so good is that its quick and easy to make as well as being relatively wholesome with its high apple – to – cake ratio so you don’t feel guilty eating it all week long. Best of all it gets better as the days go on. So give it a go. Get baking.
4 Small apples, halved, peeled and cored
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
125 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
85 grams caster sugar
85 ml honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated
2 good pinches of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
155 grams plain flour
85 ml honey
A good pinch of sea salt
Start by heating oven to 350°F/175°C. Coat a 9-inch springform with butter or a nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
Now, prepare apples by peeling, halving, coring them and resting them cut – side – down on a chopping board. Use a knife to create parallel thin slices, but only cut halfway through each apple so that the apples stay intact. If you go right through don’t panic just put them back together when you’re assembling the cake. In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and 2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
Prepare the cake base by beating butter and sugar together in a bowl with electric beaters until fluffy. Add honey and beat until combined. Add vanilla and egg yolks, beating until just combined. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over cake batter, and mix for just 5 seconds, until they disappear. Add flour, half at a time, mixing only – and preferably by hand, until just combined.
In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat egg whites until stiff. Stir a quarter of them into the cake batter, to lighten it a little. Fold in the rest in three additions. Take your time. This is an important step and you want to keep your batter aerated. The batter will be stiff but will loosen as you fold.
Spread cake batter in prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Arrange apple halves face down over the cake batter. Don’t press the apples into the batter. Pour any extra lemon juice and sugar in the bowl over the apples.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Take out and rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Cut around the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan and unhinge the sides. Let cake cool completely. You can store it at room temperature at this point, or after you add the honey, for up to 5 days at room temperature. After that, a fridge is best for longevity. By the way this cake improves – like many fruit cakes – over time. The juices seep. The taste gets richer.
For the glaze warm the honey and a good pinch of sea salt until it liquefies to the point where it makes a thin glaze — this will take less than 30 seconds. Brush honey – salt mixture over cooled cake. If you’d like a sheen on your cake do the glaze just before serving. If you don’t care then do it whenever. I personally loved the salty glaze. It gave the cake a different dimension.
And that’s it. Try it. Yum. Perfect Autumnal cooking.