Sponsored Post: Honeycrisp Apple Cake With Rosemary

Welcome fall with this apple-licious treat.
Welcome fall with this apple-licious treat.

Fall means sweater-weather, new TV programs to binge, leaves turning a kaleidoscope of colors, and all things absolutely apple.

Indeed, few things beat biting into a fresh, sweet-tart, crunchy-as-can-be apple.

But apple cake just might.

So when samples of just-picked Honeybear Honeycrisp arrived on my porch, I eagerly set some aside to bake into fragrant, moist “Apple Cake with Rosemary.”

I am all about crackling-crisp apples. The ones that give when pressed gently with a thumb? They have no place in my life — or kitchen. With Honeybear Honeycrisp, there’s never a worry with that. Whether eaten out of hand or baked into a sweet treat, these apples live up to their name. They are delightfully crisp through and through, hold their shape well when cooked, and have a subtle honey note.

Now's the time to enjoy Honeybear Honeycrisp apples.
Now’s the time to enjoy Honeybear Honeycrisp apples.

Grown in Northern Washington alongside the Columbia River, and in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, these large, dappled apples are at peak season now through December. Load up on them at Safeway and Albertsons stores.

Then, turn up your oven and get ready to bake.

This apple cake recipe is from “Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats” (Rizzoli, 2020), a cookbook that showcases the treats of neighborhood French patisseries. It was written by Christophe Felder, who for 15 years was the pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Hôtel de Crillon in Paris before opening his eponymous pastry school in Alsace; and Camille Lesecq, a former pastry chef of Le Meurice in Paris. Together, the two also operate the patisserie, Les Pâtissiers, in Mutzig, Alsace.

Apples and rosemary were made for each other.
Apples and rosemary were made for each other.

This easy, one-pan cake shows off apples beautifully. Some are hidden within, folded gently into the batter. Others dot the top of the baked cake along with the most tender sprigs of fresh rosemary, making for a simple, geometrically free-form contemporary look.

The apples are cut into both cubes and wedges, then caramelized in butter and brown sugar. Most of the cubes get incorporated into the rosemary-scented, buttery batter in which fluffy egg whites are folded in for lightness. A touch of honey adds a subtle floral note, and marries so well with Honeycrisp apples, in particular.

The original recipe gave the baking temperature and time only for a convection oven. Since so many of us have a conventional oven instead, I added in the corresponding higher temperature and shorter baking time in the recipe below.

Moist, fluffy and just sweet enough.
Moist, fluffy and just sweet enough.

Maybe owing to the fact that Europeans Felder and Lesecq probably normally use metric measurements, I found some of the ingredient amounts a little off, including the amount of apple cubes and slices you’re supposed to have after coring and peeling. So, I upped the apple amount a bit at the start, which of course, is never a bad thing anyway.

You’ll also notice that the recipe calls for 5 egg whites and 2 1/2 egg yolks. Yes, an extra half a yolk. While I did follow that exactly, if you choose to go with either 2 yolks or 3 yolks instead, the cake will likely turn out fine, too.

With a fine, compact yet fluffy crumb, the cake boasts the sweet, winey taste of apples, and the unmistakable woodsy, minty-sage-like taste of rosemary.

It’s just sweet enough for dessert. And virtuous enough for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up.

It’s an apple cake to fall for this fall.

Full of autumn's Honeycrisp apples.
Full of autumn’s Honeycrisp apples.

Apple Cake with Rosemary

(Serves 8)

For the apples:

1 pound 6 ounces peeled and cored Honeybear Honeycrisp apples (about 4 or 5 apples)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar

For cake batter:

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for brushing

2 3/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 generous cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

2 1/2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons honey

5 egg whites

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary, plus tender rosemary sprigs for decorating

For the apples: Cut some of the apples into cubes and the others into wedges. Make sure you have at least 14 ounces of cubes (almost 2 cups). In a large skillet, melt the butter with the light brown sugar over high heat. Add all of the apple pieces and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat.

For the cake batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F convection or 375 degrees F conventional. Brush a 9-inch round cake pan with butter and dust with flour. sift the cake flour with the baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, and honey.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the granulated and light brown sugars until they hold a soft peak. Fold into the batter.

Fold in the dry ingredients. Weigh out 12 ounces of the cubed apples (almost all of them) and fold them carefully into the cake batter with the chopped rosemary.

Spread the batter in the cake pan and bake for 40 minutes (convection oven) or 32 to 35 minutes (conventional oven), watching the cake carefully so it doesn’t over-brown.

Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, 10 to 12 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let cool completely. Dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Decorate with the apple wedges and remaining 1 3/4 ounces of apple cubes, and rosemary sprigs.

Adapted from “Petite Patisserie” by Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq

Another “Petite Patisserie” Recipe to Enjoy: Upside-Down Clementine Cake

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  • Apple cake can be so good, and this recipe certainly looks enticing. Love the addition of the rosemary — its distinctive flavor must be so enticing in this dish. Terrific fall recipe — thanks.

  • Hi John: Who can believe it’s fall already, right? But at least we can celebrate this year zooming by with this delicious cake. Enjoy!

  • I enjoy a not too sweet cake and this apple along with rosemary sounds like one I would really enjoy.

  • Hi Karen: It’s not a sugary, overly rich cake by any means. It’s simple, satisfying, and really shows off the apples so well. 😉

  • can I substitute almond butter for almond paste?
    Also, can I substitute AP flour for cake flour? Thanks

  • Hi Neelam: No, almond butter is entirely different from almond paste. Almond butter is akin to peanut butter, while almond paste is almonds ground up with sugar like marzipan. If you like, you can make your own cake flour from all-purpose. See info here: https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/substitute-flour-all-purpose-cake-self-rising-article

  • This recipe looks AMAZING! I love the pairing of apples and rosemary. I hope you don’t mind, but I linked to this recipe in a blog post discussing the pairing of herbs with fruits and veggies. Keep up the good work!

  • Hi Sara: Thanks for the link back. Yours is a great guide for incorporating fresh herbs easily and often, something we all should do in our cooking and baking.

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