05 December 2008

German Apple Cake

A couple of months ago a recipe popped up on Smitten Kitchen (SK) which made my mouth water and stomach growl with excitement. The timing was perfect, as apple season was in full bloom and my CSA share was overflowing with crisp, delicious apples. If you haven't yet clicked on the click and the apple-reference wasn't clue enough: apple cake. Smitten Kitchen's mom's apple cake. Jewish apple cake. German apple cake. All one in the same: cinnamon-kissed apples suspended in moist, cakey goodness.
Some of you might be comparing the date of my post and the date of the SK post and commending my self-control. Don't delude yourselves! I have made this cake three times now. A few days after the post I made a perfectly scrumptious cake which looked like it had come into contact with a bomb (not to be insensitive towards recent world events). In my gluttonous exuberance, I pulled the cake out of the oven and turned that tube pan over and attempted to shake the cake out. For some reason, I did not think to let the cake cool down before forcing it out of the pan. Instead of the intact disc you see in SK's picture, I had cake pieces. But oh was it good. And, yes, I ate it all by myself. How could I share such an ugly cake?
A few weeks after that I went apple picking with friends. A portion of these apples were set aside for take two of "German" apple cake baking. This time I carefully cut out some wax paper to fit the bottom of the form and decided to not shake the cake out right away. I was too good at greasing, flouring and lining the pan, because the cake fell right out of the form (again while it was way too hot) when I attempted to let it cool upside down, and it cracked in the middle. Still, it looked a whole lot better, but I think it could have baked a tad bit longer, as it was TOO moist (in my opinion, though others -- yes, I shared it this time! -- claimed it was fine).
So...take three! I mentioned yesterday that today is my last day of teaching for this academic year. I have been teaching an accelerated German language course (2 semesters of elementary German in one) and tomorrow I am treating my students to some breakfast: local multi-grain bread, organic butter, local swiss cheese, homemade plum-honey preserves, local raw honey and a "German" apple cake. Fingers crossed, I managed to finally make a cake that was both tasty and intact! Miraculous.
Now, you might be wondering why I keep putting German in quotations. The original recipe is sweeter than any cake I have ever eaten in Germany. But fruit cakes abound in Germany, and though this recipe definitely comes from the USA, its origins clearly are German. I have tweaked the recipe (reducing sugar, etc), and I think this final version is just right.

On another note: I am up and posting on Farm to Philly now! The first post is strikingly similar to my maiden post here, but I will attempt to avoid overlap with future posts.

A couple of notes to the recipe: I used sucanat (organic) which I ordered in bulk from Four Worlds Bakery. It's darker than some of the organic cane sugars you get in the store, which lent the cake a nice rich, almost chocolaty color. The flour I used was also ordered in bulk from Four Worlds Bakery: local, organic Pennsylvania white pastry flour. Michael Dollich mills all of his own grains in his bakery, so I know that this is the freshest flour I could ever have access to. The eggs and apples were local and organic, as well. The original recipe calls for orange juice. I used to keep orange juice in the fridge for a friend, but, honestly, I never keep it in the house for myself, though I do like it. I had been using local apple cider instead. Today the co-op was out, so instead I juiced a couple of crispin apples myself. I don't know why I hadn't thought to do this for the other two tries; I always have apples and my juicer sits pretty in a corner on the counter.

German Apple Cake
adapted from the Smitten Kitchen recipe

6 apples (I used york apples this time, but any firm, tart baking apples will do!)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sucanat (or any other, preferably organic, not too refined sugar)

2 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil this time, canola and a canola/olive oil mix in the past!)
1 1/4 cups sucanat
1/3-1/2 cup apple juice (start with 1/3, add more if the batter is too too thick)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan and dust it with flour. Cut out a piece of wax or parchment paper to fit the bottom of the tube, to ensure the cake doesn't stick (If you have your own tricks for this, go ahead and use them -- I'm clearly no expert here!). Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, apple juice, sucanat and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

Don't be too greedy and allow the cake to cool before shaking it out of the pan, unless you want to eat the cake crumbles by yourself (which is a valid option, of course!).

1 comment:

  1. Just seeing this is making my mouth water!!

    I have to try this, unfortunately I am now apple-less. Going to the farmer's market tomorrow!