I know what you’re thinking: that couldn’t possibly be a photo of an apple cake. Especially not an apple cake that looks so strikingly similar to a certain Teddie’s Apple Cake that I described to you not one week ago. What can I say? That cake and I weren’t through.
It’s nothing new. I’ve never been good at leaving well enough alone. One day last week, I spent so much time penning over a “1” that looked suspiciously seven-ish on an outgoing piece of mail that I had to tear up the envelope and start over. And back in September, I couldn’t help but swoop down with my spatula to smooth a tiny blip in the frosting on my father’s birthday cake, thereby creating a new tiny blip, which I fixed, but then blip, fixed, but then blip, and so on, until I had resurfaced the entire thing. I’m working on it. At least I was. But then along came a cake that confirms what I’ve always suspected: sometimes “well enough,” even very, very well enough, could be, should be better.
My friend, Molly, came over for some baby squishing the day that I first made Teddie’s. I had prepared enough batter to fill a giant tube pan, but since I don’t own a tube pan, I had divided it into two 9-inch cake pans, which meant that I had an extra cake parked on my counter when Molly arrived. We ate from the first, and she took the second cake home to serve at a dinner party that evening. I had told her about my niggly plans for a browner, wheatier Teddie’s, and the next morning, I got an e-mail. The cake had been a hit:
“if you improve upon it in the ways you were saying, i think it will be unstoppable. an apple cake to take over the world.”
Friends, meet your new world leader.
Everything I told you about last week’s Teddie’s is true of this week’s too, only it’s darker, on account of the brown sugar, heartier, on account of the whole wheat, and bolder by the degree of an additional half a teaspoon each vanilla and cinnamon. The whole wheat flour is on its best behavior, here. Like in these cookies and this snacking cake, it does its thing quietly, adding a nutty warmth to the cake without weighing the whole thing down. Meanwhile, the brown sugar makes the cake taste rounder, fuller, richer, as if you’ve sneaked an invisible something caramelized into the batter. There’s an earthy sweetness to this version, and I like that a lot.
So, about last week’s cake: P.S. – Make this one, too.
Adapted (again) from The New York Times, November 4, 2007 (Originally published, September 30, 1973)
1 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ c. vegetable oil
1 lightly packed c. dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. peeled, cored, and thickly sliced apples (I used a combination of Jonagold and Cortland.)
Heaped ½ c. walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. Demarara sugar (optional)
Oil and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Dump the packed brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and unpack it with a fork. Add the oil, and use the fork to moisten all of the sugar. (If you skip these first steps, the brown sugar will get pressed up against the sides of the bowl instead of mixing with the oil.) Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Meanwhile, sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl. After five minutes, add the eggs and then the vanilla to the oil and sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is creamy.
Add the dry ingredients into the sugar, egg, and oil mixture and stir by hand until just combined. Fold in the apple slices and walnuts. It will look like a lot of apple and not enough batter, but it all works out in the end.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, sprinkle with Demarara sugar if you'd like, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out.
Posted by Jess