Best Apple Cake EVER — Courtesy of Pastry Chef Joanne Chang
Throw out all those other apple cake recipes. Even the ones handed down to you by relatives (Sacrilege, I know. But you’ll get over the guilt.)
Because the only one you need is this one.
How incredible is this apple cake?
My husband, who doesn’t even like apples (Is there such a person?), took one bite and mid-chew mumbled, “This IS good! And you know, I don’t even like apples.” (Uh, yup, duly noted.)
The name, “Apple Snacking Spice Cake,” doesn’t even do it justice. That moniker conjures up a simple after-school cake baked in a square pan, and cut up to eat out of hand.
That is not this cake.
Rather, this cake is round, tall and the color of dark caramel. It is jam-packed with fruit, too. The batter is quite thick. In fact, it’s almost more apples than actual batter. If that weren’t enough, there’s also a full cup of toasted pecans in it, too. For good measure, there’s also a big handful of raisins. I actually used dried mulberries instead because I love their date-like taste.
The result is a cake, in which every bite is a riot of apples and nuts, as well as warm spices of ginger, cloves and cinnamon. But don’t think this cake is too moist like a dreaded fruitcake. Nope, it’s tender and its moistness level is just right. What’s more, when it bakes up, the top of the cake gets that heavenly crisp, crackly texture we all can’t resist.
It really should be called “Apple Awesome Cake.” It’s an easy, one-pan cake without any frosting or fancy flourishes. But it’s utter perfection. I’m already thinking what a wonderful dessert it would be for Thanksgiving or Christmas, served with dollops of maple syrup-sweetened whipped cream.
I simply can’t say enough about this cake.
Can you tell?
Apple Snacking Spice Cake
(Makes one 10-inch round cake)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups peeled, cored and chopped Granny Smith apples (2 to 3 apples)
1/2 cup raisins (or dried mulberries)
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. (Or, sift together in a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer.) Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment. Add granulated sugar and butter to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer several times to scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the butter is mixed in. Add eggs and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Then, turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for about 1 minute, or until batter is light and fluffy.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, raisins and pecans. The batter will be very stiff and thick. It will look like too many apples and not enough batter, but that’s okay. Scrape all of the batter into the prepared pan, then spread it evenly to fill the pan.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when you press it in the middle and the top is dark golden brown. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Invert the cake onto a serving plate, lifting away the pan, and then invert the cake again so it is right-side up. Slice and plate, then dust the slices with confectioners’ sugar.
The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.
Adapted from “Flour” by Joanne Chang
Another Recipe From Joanne Chang: Chocolate Chunk Cookies
More Apple Goodness: Stephanie Izard’s Apple-Pork Ragu with Papparadelle