Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Cake

It's officially fall now, and you know what that means?  Apples!  You know what else I love about fall?  Cakes!  Fall and winter are prime cake baking time because it's finally cool enough to actually enjoy having the oven on, and the cozy feeling that comes with it.  As opposed to summer when, unlike my parents, I will indeed turn my oven on, but when I do, I'm often chased into the basement to get some respite from the heat.  To recap, 2 great things about fall: apples and cake.  There is an obvious next step staring us in the face here, and it's called apple cake.

There must be some kind of apple cake high council that met long ago and ratified the master version of this recipe, because the many variations I encountered were all basically the same at their core.  The amount of oil, sugar, eggs and flour was very similar from one to another.  I saw one that called for half butter and half oil.  I saw a few that called for a bit more flour or a bit less apples than I used.  A few contained nutmeg in addition to or in place of cinnamon.  One more contemporary version called for serving a butterscotch sauce on top, which seemed cloyingly sweet and unnecessary to me.  I love butterscotch as much as the next girl, but do you want to taste the apples or not?  And there was one that called for canned apple pie filling, which is an absolute travesty any time of year, but especially now.  In the end, I went with a version that my mom has always made and has been in her recipe file for decades.  Since it is very similar to most of the recipes I found, and because it was always so good, I changed absolutely nothing.  Who am I to argue with the National Association for Apple Cake Integrity?

Apple Cake

As you can see, I used a 9 x 13 pan, but my sister-in-law makes a similar recipe and uses a Bundt pan.  I like to make a foil liner for the pan when I make a snack cake like this so I can lift the entire cake out of the pan to cut it.  That way I don't scratch up my bakeware with a knife.  I used Granny Smiths because their tartness complements the sweetness of the cake nicely, but the choice of apple is obviously up to you.  The batter will be very thick; it's almost more like a cookie dough than a cake batter.  You will need to smooth it out into an even layer before baking.  I served mine for dessert along with coffee or milk, as the diner preferred, but it was great the next morning for breakfast, too.  Also works well as just an anytime snack. 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped (if using Granny Smiths, this is about 2 or 3 of the jumbo ones, or 4 to 5 smaller ones)
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by lining with foil and spraying the foil with vegetable oil cooking spray, or leave out the foil and grease and flour the pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and whisk until well mixed.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Add the chopped apples and nuts, if using, and fold into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, making sure to spread it out into an even layer and into the corners of the pan.  Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees.  Allow to cool before slicing.


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