We have mentioned this Caramelized Apple Cake before, because Michelle has tried to make it several times every apple season for years with little (OK, at least one) real success. The recipe pages in Susan Herrmann Loomis’ Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin have all sorts of scribbles covering them, adjusting the amount and thinness of apples, ingredients, mixing instructions and more. Time after time, it’s turned out underdone, overdone or just odd—but the damn thing keeps haunting us with its buttery, caramel apple taste.
Michelle had grown so wary of the dessert she avoided it all season, but recently returned to try it after another apple cake ended up as chicken feed (apple topping excellent but crumb too dense and “cornbready”). Once again assessing the elements that could go wrong, she decided to try a new, larger and deeper 9-inch cake pan and use the full amount of apples called for by the original recipe—and the results, for once, proved quite satisfactory. The cake, though thinner than the original, was densely buttery, yellow from our wonderful eggs and brown with caramelized sugar, the apples cooked to a soft yet firm texture. It went quite nicely with the maple and buttermilk ice cream we based on a Yankee Magazine recipe (leftover from the less successful prior apple cake night).
Will we be able to recreate this seemingly correct version of Loomis’ apple cake again? We might try soon, as apple season is almost over for us. We encourage you to give it a try—and if it comes out the same way two times in a row, please let us know.
CARAMELIZED APPLE CAKE
(adapted from Susan Herrmann Loomis’ Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin)
- 1/2 c. + 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. + 1 TB all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 lb. apples (about 2 small + 2 large apples, a mix of soft and hard is good)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Sprinkle a half cup of sugar in a deep 8″ or 9″ deep cake pan, preferably nonstick. Place on the stove over medium heat. Using kitchen tongs or a potholder, swirl the pan as necessary to melt and caramelize the sugar, being careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat and set aside, making sure that as the caramel hardens it is covering the bottom of the bottom of the pan completely.
Place flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk to aerate.
Cream butter and remaining half cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until yellow and light. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Peel and core apples. Cut into fourths, then cut each fourth into 3 or 4 slices. Spread apple slices over caramel in pan in concentric circles.
Fold flour mixture into the butter/egg mixture just until incorporated. Pour batter over apples and spread with a spatula to the edge of the pan.
Bake cake in center of oven until golden brown and puffy. In a 9″ pan, it took about 40 minutes. Test with a toothpick, keeping in mind that the apples will be moist.
Remove cake from oven and run a table knife around the edge of the pan. Invert onto a plate, replacing any apples that have stuck to the pan.
MAPLE BUTTERMILK ICE CREAM
(adapted from Yankee Magazine)
- 1-3/4 c. heavy cream
- 1-1/4 c. buttermilk
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 c. + 1/2 c. maple syrup
- Kosher or sea salt
Heat cream and buttermilk in a large saucepan until it scalds. Remove from heat.
Beat egg yolks with a half cup of the maple syrup for about 3 minutes.
Pour a bit of the hot cream/buttermilk mixture into egg/maple syrup mixture, beating to temper the eggs. Transfer the mixture into the pot. Stir in remaining half cup of maple syrup. Heat custard over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in salt (taste for seasoning—it can take a good amount).
Pour custard through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl. Let cool a bit, then refrigerate overnight, covered.
Freeze according to ice cream maker’s instructions.