Bolzano Apple CakeNovember 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 22 Comments
When my husband comes home from work, he likes to plop down on the couch and settle in with some ESPN or some business news. Yawn. I like to plop down beside him and settle in with a cookbook. For the past couple of weeks, my book of choice has been Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook. I have to tell you that you won’t find many pictures in the book, but that’s fine with me because it makes way for heaps more recipes! The book spans the archives of newspaper, and the recipes in each section are arranged by date (one day I’ll be adventurous enough to make you a cake from 1876, but for today’s one is from 2004). It also has a beautiful red cloth cover, and would make a pretty sweet holiday present for anyone who loves to cook.
When I came across the Bolzano Apple Cake recipe in the book, I knew instantly that I wanted to give it a shot. (Just because October has come and gone, does that mean I should move past apple desserts? I hope not, because I still have half a crisper drawer full of them from my orchard excursion a month ago.) What really attracted me to this cake, was that it sounded so similar to Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake (which I was crazy about) from a few weeks back.
The cakes are not quite identical twins– maybe fraternal? Marie-Hélène’s has a healthy dose of rum in it, while the Bolzano is all about real vanilla bean. And while Marie-Hélène’s certainly has a custardy texture, this one does, too, but even more so. In the Bolzano cake, the apples are thinly sliced, instead of cut into chunks. The cake bakes up into a stack of soft apples with batter barely seeping in between the layers. I’m glad that I don’t have to choose between the two cakes, but can quickly and easily make either one!
Bolzano Apple Cake- makes 6 to 8 servings
adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved
1 1/4 pounds (3 to 4 small to medium) Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup AP flour, plus mor for dusting the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
Powdered sugar for dusting
-Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line the base of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment, then smear with thick layer of butter. Dust with flour; turn pan over and tap lightly to remove excess flour. Melt butter in small saucepan (you can take it a step further and lightly brown it, if you like). Set aside.
-Beat together eggs and half the sugar in a bowl (it’s not hard to do by hand). Continue to beat while slowly adding remaining sugar until thick; it should form a ribbon when dropped from a spoon. Add the vanilla seeds to the batter and add the pod to the melted butter.
-Peel, quarter and core apples, then trim ends and slice thinly.
-Remove vanilla pod from butter and stir butter into egg-sugar batter. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir it into batter alternately with milk. Stir in apples, coating every piece with batter. Pour batter into pan, using fingers to pat top evenly.
-Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate pan; bake for about 25 minutes more, until cake pulls away from pan and is brown on top; a thin-bladed knife inserted into center will come out clean when it is done. Cool 30 minutes on a rack.
-Remove the sides of the springform, cut the cake into wedges and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Please note that the publisher, W.W. Norton, sent me a copy of this book…but I would have bought it anyway!