When Joanne Chang's new cookbook Flour came onto my radar recently, I immediately requested a copy from my public library (as I often do before buying). I had to wait 3 weeks to get a copy! Now I know why - it's a wonderful book full of delicious recipes from her Flour Bakery and Café in Boston. I'm sure I will be owning a copy of this terrific book soon.
I don't often make desserts unless we're having company for dinner or we're invited for dinner and I offer to bring the dessert. After leafing through the book, the recipe for Apple Snacking Spice Cake first attracted my attention. This was a cake that could be eaten any time of day and not just for dessert...with tea in the afternoon or even for breakfast (I've already done both)!
When the cake comes out of the oven, it has a beautiful texture that looks like craters on the moon!
Other than tasting fantastic, the another great thing about this cake is that it freezes beautifully. Since my husband and I are empty-nesters, I froze more than half of the cake in sections to savor slowly. My husband loved it and keeps asking for more!
The only changes I made were to omit the raisins since my husband doesn't care for them and, also, I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour instead of all AP flour. The next time I made this cake I'm going to try adding some dates!
Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang
Makes one 10-inch round cake
1/2 cup (140 grams) all-purpose flour (original recipe calls for 1 cup AP flour and no WW flour)
1/2 cup (140 grams) whole wheat flour (my addition - I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
3/4 cup (90 grams) cake flour (such as Pillsbury Softasilk)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1½ sticks, 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups (450 grams) peeled, cored and chopped apples
1/2 cup (80 grams) raisins (I omit because my husband doesn’t like raisins)
1 cup (100 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (I also omit)
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan. I used a 10-inch springform pan which was deep enough and made releasing the cake easy.
Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves together into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the granulated sugar and softened butter to the bowl and, using the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about one minute until the butter is fully incorporated into the dry ingredients, stopping the mixer several times to scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl to make sure all the butter is mixed in. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Then turn the mixer to medium high speed and beat for about 1 minute, or until the batter is light and fluffy.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, raisins (if using) and pecans. The batter will be very stiff and thick. It will look like too many apples and not enough batter, but that’s okay. Scrape all of the batter into the prepared pan, then spread evenly with a spatula.
Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (mine was done about 5 minutes sooner), or until the cake feels firm when you press it in the center and the top is dark golden brown. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
When cool, release the side of the spring-form pan and invert the cake onto a large baking pan, lifting away the bottom, using a long flat knife to separate the bottom from the cake, if necessary. Then invert the cake again onto a serving plate so it is right-side up. Slice and plate, the dust the slices with confectioners’ sugar (I felt the cake was sweet enough without the powdered sugar).
The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to two weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.