Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

fit_applecake

Recipe By Dorie Greenspan

My friend Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhoste is a woman who knows her way around food. She’s a top editor of the Louis Vuitton City Guides (and one of the restaurant critics for the Paris edition), so she eats at scores of restaurants every year, and she’s a terrific hostess, so she cooks at home often and with great generosity. There’s no question that she’s a great home cook, but for me, she’s the most frustrating kind of cook: she never follows a recipe (in fact, I don’t think there’s a cookbook to be found on her packed bookshelves), never takes a note about what she does, and while she’s always happy to share her cooking tips, she can never give you a real recipe — she just doesn’t know it.

Yield: 8 servings

Course:

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
  3. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
  5. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Tips/Techniques

Serving: The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Storing: The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature and, according to my husband, gets more comforting with each passing day. However long you keep the cake, it’s best not to cover it — it’s too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

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