When I walk through our farmer’s market and see all the apples in baskets, I immediately start to go through all the different ways I can use them. While I love them in savory dishes, the ones that seem to come to mind first are desserts! Today’s recipe is one of my favorites – a creamy cake with sweet apples in the center and studding the top. If you are having a luncheon or brunch, you can serve a light soup and salad meal followed by this dessert. It highlights the flavors of the season and will fill everyone with warm memories of mom and apple pie! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the corny phrase, LOL!)
You can also make this cake with other fruits such as peaches, plums, and pears, depending on what is in season. I would change the sauce to complement whatever fruit you use. This is delicious served a la mode with either vanilla ice cream or cinnamon, which would be heavenly with the apples!
The cake is absolutely perfect served on its own, but I also like to take it over the top occasionally – and thought you might too. I’ve included a recipe for a rum-caramel sauce that is to die for. Rich, creamy and sinfully good, I would be a very happy woman if I could eat it every day! I’ve also included a recipe for Pinenut Brittle for you to try if you like, but you certainly don’t need it to have a great dessert. It would also be a wonderful gift for the holidays.
If you made the Caramel Turtles from Chocolate Monday, you know that the consistency of caramel varies depending on how long you cook it. Today you have a chance to make it two different ways. By cooking it just a little you get the creamy caramel sauce. And by boiling it longer it becomes brittle and breaks when you snap it. Caramel is truly amazing!
This cake recipe comes from Francois Payard, one of the kings of pastry chefs in this country. Born in Nice, France and a third generation pastry chef, he grew up in his grandfather’s patisserie. He then went on to Paris to train under some of the best in the business, including 3-star Michelin restaurants! He moved to New York City and became famous in this country by heading up the pastry departments at Le Bernardin and Restaurant Daniel. He has won many accolades including the prestigious James Beard Association’s Pastry Chef of the Year. He now creates fantasy desserts at his eponymous restaurant, Payard Patisserie & Bistro in Las Vegas. Don’t miss it the next time you visit.
I hope this dessert brings a lot of joy to your life!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Have you ever wondered how bakeries get that beautiful sheen on baked goods? It is surprisingly simple … just melt a jelly, usually apricot or red currant, and brush it over the top while still warm. It dries nearly clear, with just a hint of color, leaving that elusive shiny surface!
Kitchen Skill: Buttering and Flouring Baking Pans
Why: To make sure baked goods release easily from pans.
How: Using softened butter, thoroughly coat the bottom and sides of your baking pan. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp flour in the bottom. Working over your sink, shake the pan until the bottom is covered with flour. Assuming you are working with a square or rectangular pan, turn it on its side and tap until the flour completely covers one corner – gently tip the pan so that the flour slides down to the opposite corner, coating that side of the pan. Repeat for all sides of the pan. When completely coated, turn the pan upside down and tap out any excess flour.
- 1/3 cup raisins *
- 2 tbsp dark rum **
- 2 Fuji apples, peeled and cored
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, softened
- 1 cup Confectioner’s sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly, melted over low heat
- Rum-Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
- Pinenut Brittle, recipe follows
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet.
- Bring a small pan of water to a boil, stir in the raisins and let boil for 1 minute. Drain and repeat one more time. Drain and transfer raisins to a small bowl. Add the rum and set aside.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the raisins and rum.
- While butter is beating, prepare the apples. Cut one apple into 12 wedges and place in a small bowl. Cut the second apple into 8 wedges and cut each wedge crosswise. Set aside.
- Add the dry ingredients to the beaten eggs and butter, beating on low speed until blended. Spoon half the batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Arrange the thinner apple wedges over the batter, top with remaining batter and smooth the top. Arrange the cut apple wedges along the long sides of the pan, gently pressing them into the batter, but leaving the top exposed.
- Bake in preheated oven 60 to 65 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place pan on the wire rack for 15 minutes. Unmold the cake and place on the wire rack. Brush with the apricot glaze while still warm. Let cake cool completely before serving. This cake will hold in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for up to a week.
- To serve, cut cake into slices, drizzle with the Rum-Caramel Sauce and garnish with some pieces of the Pinenut Brittle.
- Yield: about 6 servings
- * For those who don’t like raisins, you can leave them out, but still add the rum!
- ** And if you prefer not using the rum, you can use a little additional vanilla.
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Cook without stirring until a medium-amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and quickly but carefully stir in the cream and butter. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Pour the sauce into a pitcher and keep warm.
- Serve over the apple cake, as a topping for ice cream, dip fruit slices in it, or just use it to dunk cookies! YUM!
- Yield: about 2 cups
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup lightly toasted pinenuts
- 1/4 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Line a baking sheet with a silpat or a piece of buttered parchment paper. Set next to stove.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring, until it reaches a deep amber caramel color, which is 270°F to 290°F, the soft crack stage. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes, but watch carefully because it can burn quickly!
- Remove from the heat. Carefully stir in the pinenuts, the baking soda mixture, and vanilla, (it will bubble up). Then quickly pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, without scraping the pan, and spread it into a thin layer with a buttered spatula.
- Let the candy cool until hardened. Break into ragged pieces and serve. The brittle can be kept in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Yield: about 2 cups
Decadent and delightful! Now, off to the store for some apples and pinenuts! Already have the rum. 😉
Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
I love the delicate nature of the pinenuts against the snap of the brittle. Apples with caramel is one of my favorite combos, especially in the Autumn!