Another day of rain here in Denver. Fall has arrived, and not a gloriously colorful, graceful entrance. Cold, wet, and dreary just plopped down in your lap. What you want to eat and cook changed dramatically in the past few days. Baking, braising, and generally having the oven on and filling the house with warmth and things that smell good is where most of us want to be. Apples will be the fruit we’ll be picking up and eating out of hand, filling cakes and pastries with, and slipping in next to onions and roasting. This cake a great transition piece, easy to make and even easier to eat. What makes it rustic? Well, there’s nothing pretentious about this cake. It’s craggy and crumbly, studded with nuts, packed with apple pieces, and warmly fragrant with spices. There’s no frosting, or filling, and nothing dainty and petite about it. It’s pretty great no matter when you eat it. Warm and fresh out of the oven or the next day for breakfast (you know I’m the president of the Cake for Breakfast club). It’s wonderful with tea in the afternoon, or even dolloped with rummy whipped cream. It would be a wonderful gift for a neighbor or friend although I’m pretty sure you’re not going to want to part with it. Make two!
I know you’re going to like this cake, and I know I’ll be making it several times in the coming months. The cake is at it’s best right now, shining warmly, inviting you to sit down with a cup of Earl Grey or caramel coffee and watch the leaves falling.
Rustic Apple Cake
5 large apples, peeled and cored
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
5 tablespoons of sherry
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
For dusting the top:
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 3 apples into a 1/2 dice, and slice the remaining apples into wedges. 8 or 12 pieces. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside.
Sift the flour with the spices, salt, and baking soda. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, sherry, and vanilla extract until pale and thick, about 8 minutes. Lower the speed and gradually add the oil and flour, alternating in two batches until mixed. Fold in the apples and walnuts and pour into a well greased 10″ springform pan. Arrange the apple wedges in a decorative pattern on the top and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until golden and a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs sticking to it. Cool for 15 minutes, release from the pan and continuing cooling on a rack. At least wait another 20 to 30 minutes to serve warm.
A few notes: Switch out the sherry for brandy, rum, or calvados. As I typed caramel coffee above, I thought a caramel icing drizzle over this would be great! Try it and let me know. It reheats in the microwave like a champ, 1 slice 25 seconds. You can also use any kind of apple you’d like, but keep in mind that some are softer than others when baked and will affect (minimally) the structure.
Adapted from “The Book of New Israeli Food” by Janna Gur