This time of year the words "seasonal desserts" conjure of thoughts of two ingredients: apples and pumpkin.
That irks me because I do not like pumpkin. With only a very small handful of exceptions, I don't like pumpkin anything. I don't want it in my cakes, cookies, blondies, muffins and breads. Squash is not dessert. Again, with only a small handful of exceptions, squash isn't dinner either.
But then there are apples. I love apples. Apples have always been a part of my life. Growing up there was always a bowl of apples in the kitchen, so that was the snack I could always have. I love apple pie, but what I really love is a good apple cake. I like it when there is pastry all among the apples and not just surrounding it.
This time of year always puts me in the mood for apple cake and it always has me scouring the blogs, the cookbooks, and the recipe sites for apple cake ideas. There are just so many possibilities that can fall under the two simple words, "apple cake".
So as my craving for apple cake grew stronger, I had to figure out where I would go for the most inspiring recipe.
Well, I found it in two places. Great minds think alike, right? That was certainly the case this time. Two of my favorite blogs, More Than Burnt Toast, hosted by the prolific and altruistic Bellini Valli (who provides the recipe)and Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, hosted by the hilarious and sweet Dorie Greenspan fan, Susan. They both chose Dorie Greenspan's French apple cake, from her new French-inspired cookbook.
This cake is definitely different from most other apple cakes. There is no cinnamon - but there is rum. There are no nuts or raisins (yay, no raisins) but more apples than one can think could possible go into a cake. In fact, there are far more apples than cake.
I used two kinds of apples in my version. Many of my favorite apple varieties (gala, honeycrisps) are not ideal for baking, so I had to put some thought into what I would use. I started with good old fashioned granny smiths. They are the ultimate baking apple. I tempered the tartness with golden delicious. Those are my least favorite apple but they can be pretty good in baked desserts because they hold their shape and give off sweetness.
I also used gluten-free, all-purpose flour (Bob's Red Mill) with a pinch of xanthan gum. I'm still trying to keep up the gluten-free experiment. It did change the flavor of the cake a bit, although not to it's total detriment.
This was a very soft cake. It was almost hard to tell when it was baked. It was nicely moist and tasty though, and was even better the next day.
The recipe suggests cinnamon ice cream and I wished that I had some. I was very tempted to make some as I had a decent amount of milk and cream and could probably have whipped up a very simple ice cream. However, my ice cream maker is the kind that has the chamber that needs to be stored in the freezer for 8 hours before you use it.*
With no cinnamon ice cream on hand, I simply whipped some cream with sugar and cinnamon. Cinnamon whipped cream is good stuff!
I hope this will be the first of two apple cake experiments. Stay tuned for more.
*I'm beginning to think it might not be a bad idea to just store the bowl of my ice cream maker permanently in the freezer so I can always make ice cream on a whim. Would it be a good idea - or just dangerous?