When life gives you apples…

(TMW you think you can swap out bakeware and still have your cake be beautiful and heavenly. Yeah, I learned the hard way that’s not always the case. When the recipe says use a tube pan, USE A TUBE PAN. I used a regular cake pan and couldn’t get this one out whole. Broke off several pieces of the top trying to force it. All to no avail. So now I have an ugly but wonderfully delicious cake. Sigh.)

Now that you understand why this cake is ugly, on to the story of the cake.

I have no idea why I buy so many apples. I crave them, buy FIVE pounds, eat one, and let the others sit in the fridge where I forget about them until I’m looking for something else and “discover” the surplus. Then I have to figure out what to make with pounds of apples. Happens all the time.

So it’s no surprise that I did exactly that this week when I discovered about three pounds of Fujis and Granny Smiths. In the past I’ve made applesauce, puff pastry tartlets, chicken with apple cider sauce, salad with feta and apples, fritters, cocktails, the list goes on and on.

This time I chose apple cake. I’ve had it tagged in my Smitten Kitchen cookbook for a while and finally got around to it. My goodness this cake is glorious, and I typically dislike any cake that isn’t chocolate. The tart apples against the crunch of the walnuts is just spectacular. But what I think made it even better was my additions of lemon and orange zest to the apple mixture, and lemon juice to the batter. They balance out the sugar so it’s not overly sweet and adds a bit of needed brightness. So good!

Pro tip: Use a tube pan. I baked mine in a 9-inch cake pan, and it simply would not come out, and I broke several pieces off trying to force it out. Use a 10-inch tube as directed. You’ll get a prettier, easy-to-remove cake and not an ugly one like mine.

Deb Perelman’s Mom’s Apple Cake

For the apples

  • 6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples, I use a mix of whatever looks good
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons (65 grams) granulated sugar

For the cake

  • 2 3/4 cups (360 grams) flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) vegetable oil (safflower, sunflower, olive and coconut oil also work, as does melted butter)
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
  • 2 1/2 (13 ml) teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (130 grams) walnuts, chopped (optional and to be honest, we never use them)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into 1-inch chunks.Toss with cinnamon and 5 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix wet ingredients into dry ones; scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples (and their juices) over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.*

Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

Do ahead: This cake is awesome on the first day but absolutely glorious and pudding-like on the days that follow, so feel free to get an early start on it. I keep it at room temperature covered with foil.

* Tip: The apples love to hide uncooked pockets of batter, especially near the top. Make sure your testing skewer or toothpick goes not just all the way down to the bottom, but does a shallow dip below the top layer of apples to make sure it comes out batter-free. Should your cake be browning too fast, before the center is baked through, cover it with foil for all but the last few minutes in the oven.

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