Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apple Cake

I first made this cake when a co-worker of mine a few years ago brought a mess of apples into the office that he had gotten from his uncle's farm in the Central Valley. I found this in the SF Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market cookbook under the title of Karen's Apple Cake. It's more or less a typical carrot cake with grated apples substituted for the carrots minus any nuts and dried fruits. I topped it with a cream cheese frosting that I use with layer cakes like this one.

1 tablespoon sweet butter
1½ cups canola oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

3 cups unpeeled tart apples
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Icing:
½ cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
8 ounces natural cream cheese (without gum - NOT Philadelphia brand)
2 cups powdered sugar (granulated will not do here)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Healthy pinch of ground ginger

With the oven preheating to 325°, I greased two 9-inch round cake pans with the butter.
In a large bowl, I then combined the canola oil, sugar, and eggs.

I used a Kitchen Aid mixer on medium speed to mix the ingredients together until it was all well-blended.

I then put all of the dry ingredients into a sifter and sifted them into a bowl, mixing it all together with a wooden spoon.

I put the mixed dry ingredients into the egg/sugar/oil batter stirring with a plastic spatula to blend, making sure to pull in anything sticking on the sides of the bowl. 

I cored the apples (3 small Granny Smiths), then sliced them vertically small enough to add into a food processor opening. I fit the processor with a grater, and added the slices one at a time. The yield was just 3 cups. 

I added the grated apples with the vanilla into the batter  again mixing well with the spatula.

I then poured the batter evenly divided between the two greased pans and put them into the oven.

After about 35 minutes, I tested the cakes by inserting a toothpick into each to see if it would come out dry which it did confirming it was done. Another indication was that the cakes had started to pull away from the sides of the pans. I removed the cakes to cool on a rack.

While the layers were cooling, I cleaned the Kitchen Aid bowl and used it to make the icing.

If you haven't made cream cheese icing, a couple of points I would make.
1. Don't use a gummy cream cheese like Kraft Philadelphia. I've had much better luck using a natural cream cheese like the kind sold in natural food stores. Around here the SF East Bay we can get it easily in either Berkeley Bowl or the El Cerrito Natural Grocery.
2. It's best to get the butter to room temperature. I wouldn't use a microwave to hurry that process up as it simply won't work, at least in my experience. :-P
Slice the butter, and add with the cream cheese into the mixer bowl. Put the mixer on at a low-medium speed and let it do the work of smoothing up the mix. You may want to stop the mixer a few times during the process and scrape down the sides to make sure everything gets well-blended. The whole thing will probably take about 5 minutes or so.

Once the butter and cheese were well-blended, I added in the vanilla extract and continued mixing. Again while still mixing I added the sugar a little at a time. I usually measure it into a Pyrex and let a bit drop in at a time while the mixer is going. Then I added in the ground ginger.

By the time this was done, I had a beautiful icing with which to cover the layers.

I emptied one of layers out to a large serving plate flat side down, meaning I had to turn the first pan upside down onto the plate. I first used a butter knife to go completely around each cake to make sure they were each loose enough to remove easily. I then used a flat frosting knife to ice the top of that first layer.
I removed the second layer and put it on top of the first one, icing the top of it as well as the sides of the entire cake as much as possible.

At this point it's best to set in the frig overnight but in this case I only had time to cool it for a couple of hours which worked fine as well.

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