I’m not a big fan of cake. That’s all there is to it. I don’t often speak about my odd cake aversion in public because, well, what kind of weirdo doesn’t like cake? It’s considered socially inappropriate. It’s the same as not like pets; it makes a person seem cold and untrustworthy.
But, in my view, cake is often overly dry, too sugary, or has too much icing. The same is true with cupcakes, where the cake-to-frosting ratio is completely incorrect, resulting in a tablespoon of frosting for every mouthful of cake. That much icing is simply too much for me. I’m already nice enough, but others may argue otherwise.
There are some cakes that I like well enough, but I usually prefer other things for dessert, including (but not limited to) pie, cobbler, ice cream, chocolate mousse, crème brulee, cheesecake, pudding and Fudgsicles. With a few exceptions, I would choose any of them over cake. The exceptions are if I’m being given cake and none of the other options are available.
Occasionally I’ll get a craving for a wedge of triple-decker chocolate cake or a tender carrot cake with pineapple and raisins and tangy cream cheese frosting. Lemon poke cake has actually captured my attention. It’s an irresistible combination of tart and sweet, and the pudding in the batter makes it so moist that it doesn’t need any frosting. I also like rhubarb coffee cake, which is rich in rhubarb and has a sweet streusel topping. Generally, I want cake that isn’t too cakey.
That’s why I’m such a fan of this Apple Vanilla Cake. It’s not a fluffy cake — it’s barely an inch or two thick, more like a pie — and there’s no icing, just a sprinkling of sugar. But what I really appreciate about it is how many delicious apple bits there are. It’s not apple-flavored cake with a hint of apple; there’s an apple in every bite, just as much apple as cake. What’s more, it’s easy to whip up and doesn’t need any complicated culinary know-how or call for unusual ingredients like Sumatran vanilla pods or twice-distilled crabapple essence or candied lark’s beak from Dangle-upon-Blobsmere in Outer Yorkshire. It’s simply simple vanilla cake with a ton of apples on top. So let’s start applying!
Apple Vanilla Cake
2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup flour
⅔ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Two big apples should be peeled, cored, and diced. Mix together one stick of softened butter and 2/3 cup granulated sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract until smooth. 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 14 teaspoon salt should be sifted together. Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid components until they are uniformly moistened. Stir in the apple pieces until well combined. Fill a prepared and floured 12-inch cake pan halfway with batter. 1 or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, liberally sprinkled over the batter. Place everything in a warm oven and set a timer for 40 minutes. Allow the cake cool to nearly room temperature and then dust it with a generous amount of powdered sugar before serving.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Two big apples should be peeled, cored, and diced. I had a Honeycrisp and a Gala in my crisper, so that’s what I used, but I imagine that tart baking apples like Granny Smith would be delicious and pink Hidden Rose apples would be so pretty nestled in the yellow cake. I cut them into small-to-medium-sized portions approximately 1/2-inch square.
Then, combine one stick of butter and two-thirds cup granulated sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat in 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract until smooth. I also added 1 teaspoon dried orange zest since I had some leftover from a previous post on how to utilize orange peel. You might add fresh orange zest or leave it out entirely. I almost added a teaspoon of fresh ginger, but the truth is that I put ginger in almost everything, and my ginger-addicted family is sick of it. In the end, my creative explosion was restricted to 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Overall, I don’t believe the cake need anything other than the vanilla.
1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 14 teaspoon salt should be sifted together. Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid components until they are uniformly moistened. Stir in the apple pieces until well combined. Fill a prepared and floured 12-inch cake pan halfway with batter. I don’t have a true cake pan (that tells you how much I like cake, doesn’t it?), but I do have a springform pan that I got for a wedding present almost 30 years ago and it works just fine. In fact, it may be preferable for this cake since the apples tend to stick to the edges of the pan.
The batter will almost completely cover the bottom of the pan. Since it’s a thin cake, don’t worry you made a mistake and should have used more batter. It’s all right. Take a handful of granulated sugar — 1 or 2 tablespoons — and liberally sprinkle it over the top of the batter. Place everything in a warm oven and set a timer for 40 minutes. Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the rich aroma of apples and vanilla permeating your whole home with the most delectable scent. When the buzzer sounds, take out your gorgeous golden cake sprinkled with delicate apple bits and start salivating. Let the cake to cool to about room temperature before dusting with powdered sugar. Grab yourself another cup of coffee and sink your teeth into a large, warm wedge. It’s so tasty that it doesn’t even need a lark’s beak.
Monika Spykerman may be reached at 360-735-4556, monika.[email protected], or on Twitter at @monikasplayfulpantry.
What apples are good for baking in a cake?
Best Apples for Baking
- According to Bon Appetit, the finest apples for baking include Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Mutsu, Winesap, and Pink Lady (Cripps Pink), however Granny Smith is also often used.
- Granny Smith, Jonathan or Jonagold, Cortland, Braeburn, and Honeycrisp are favorites in the Kitchen.
How can I spice up a vanilla cake?
Add a Few Fun Mix-Ins
Try adding chopped crystallized ginger, dried fruit, or fresh berries to vanilla or yellow cake mixes. For chocolate or vanilla cake mixes, try adding unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted chopped nuts, or chocolate chips.
Are Gala apples good for cakes?
Gala apples are fantastic for baking because of their crisp, mellow sweetness, and because you can usually use less sugar owing to their inherent sweetness.
Why does my apple cake fall apart?
There are two basic reasons why an apple cake crumbles: (1) it was simply too warm when you were trying to cut and serve it or (2) you used too many/the wrong kind of apple. Note the advice above about selecting the finest apples for a dish like this.