It’s not like I never bake; I do. I bake once a year. Every December, I get together with two old friends and we spend a solid 5 hours in the kitchen making holiday treats like peppermint patties, cookies and various sugary squares.
Perhaps it’s something about baking with my friends that puts me at ease, as opposed to baking tout seul. Baking alone, for whatever reason, makes me feel quite rushed and, well, a bit stressed out.
As Lisa mentioned in her intro, she’s the baker and I’m the quasi cook. Cooking feels so much more free and artistic to me than baking, which feels quite scientific and regimented. Alas, one of the goals of this cooking blog is for me to step out of my comfort zone! As luck would have it, I had nothing to worry about with the dessert I selected to make: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake.
I may or may not have picked the easiest dessert recipe in the book on purpose… but, guys, this cake is so good! Incredibly moist with a warm rum flavour. A slice of this cake would pair perfectly with a cup of tea, or eaten by itself warm out of the oven, room temperature the next day or cold out of the fridge the day after that!
I followed the recipe true to form, and my only dispute was the cooking time. While the recipe called for 50-60 minutes of baking, my oven took 75 minutes until a knife came out clean from the centre. Also, one nice addition would be a dash of cinnamon… and next time, I might even get adventurous with a caramel sauce drizzled over it. (i.e. I will politely ask Lisa or my holiday baking friends to help me!)
If all of the future baking I do is this easy and this tasty then I’m gold, Ponyboy.
Recipe Rating: 4.5 knives out of 5
Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake
By Dorie Greenspan | October 2010 | Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home to Yours
Yield: Makes 8 servings
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.
The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature and, according to my husband, gets more comforting with each passing day. However long you keep the cake, it’s best not to cover it – it’s too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.