If there’s one thing everybody in the western world understands, it’s baked goods with apples in them. Like apple cake. This one is as simple as it is amazing. It’s feels really moist due to the high fat content, and gets its flavor from cardamom and browned butter. With it comes a simple vanilla custard made from scratch. If you’re not already working out, you should start now. After trying this cake, you’ll want more which isn’t a good idea if you’re skipping cardio days.
For the custard you’ll need:
- 2 vanilla pods
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 dl of full cream
- 2 dl of full milk
- 1 dl of sugar (I’m using raw cane sugar hence it’s a little brown, but any pure suger will do)
For the cake you’ll need:
- 400 g of butter (Yes, this is a very calorie rich cake)
- 4 apples (I’m using Granny Smith because I like it a little tart, but you can choose sweeter apples)
- 280 g of wheat flour
- 360 g of sugar (and some to coat the pan with)
- 2 egg yolks and 3 egg whites
- A pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean (or two pinches of pure vanilla powder)
- 5 grams of ground cardamom (about 1 tablespoon)
- 6 grams of cinnamon (about 1 tablespoon)
- A tablespoon of apricot jam (or any light coloured jam really)
- A tablespoon of cold water
Let’s start with the custard so it can cool down while you make the apple cake:
- Combine milk and cream in a saucepan.
- Split a vanilla pod in two and scrape out the seeds. Put them into the cream and milk mix.
- Heat the milk and cream for 20 minutes, and all the good vanilla flavour will be absorbed by the liquid. Some say milk and cream should never boil because it destroys the proteins which in turn changes the taste. I’m not a chemist, so I don’t know, but I’ve never notised any difference. As long as you don’t burn the milk, which easily happens if you’re not careful. Anyway…
- Remove the vanilla pods.
- Add sugar. Mix until dissolved.
- Turn down the heat to low, and put in the egg yolks. Now mix it while you slowly raise the heat. Careful, if it starts boiling you’ll end up with a coagulated mess. That’s no good. What you want is a smooth and thick custard. As soon as it thickens, transfer the custard into a container of choice. Let it cool, and then put it in the refrigerator.
- You now have wonderful vanilla custard!
Now make the apple cake
- Preheat the oven to 165°C.
- Melt half the butter, and let it make sounds and bubble until it turns brown and has a wonderful nutty flavour. If it smells burnt, you screwed up. Redo.
- Add the other half of the butter, and just let it melt. Now you have a half nutty butter and half melted butter combined. Let it cool.
- Combine flour, salt and 310 grams of sugar.
- Add the eggs to the flour mix. Two yolks but three whites, meaning you’ll have one yolk left.*
- While mixing, add the molten butter until you have a nice yellow dough kind of thing.
- Flavour it with the seeds from one vanilla pod and the cardamom. I’m using 5 grams.** Try the dough, if you like more cardamom flavour then add more. If you want less then… Well, too late, you should have started with less.
- Peel and cut the apples into large pieces. Ask a friend to do this now while you do number 9 and 10, because you don’t want to let the batter sit too long or it will sink down and lose its fluffyness. Or you everything yourself, but then the apples will turn brown while standing there. This can be prevented by adding acid from say a lemon, but we don’t want lemon in this, now do we?
- Now whip the egg whites until they make a fluffy foam, almost like when you do a meringue. This will be our leavening. The pastry chefs call it “mechanical leavening”. I’ll just call it the white fluff.
- Fold the white fluff into the yellow dough, and you’ll have a fluffy batter. When I say fold, I mean carefully combining he two. Because if you mix it in too harshly, you’ll break the bubbles in the foam and it will lose its leavening properties. I recommend you fold in half of the foam first and then the other half, it’s usually easier than putting in everything at the same time.
- Add the rest of the sugar (50 grams) and cinnamon to the apples. Shake the bowl to cover them all.
- Butter a cake pan and cover it with sugar. This will give the cake a nice outer crust and keep it from sticking to the pan, believe it or not.
- Fill the buttered and sugared pan with the batter. Then press in the apples. I like a lot of apples in my apple cake, so I just press them deep in there. Then arrange apples on top of the cake in some nice pattern so it will look as good as it will taste.
- Put a thermometer into the cake and then put the cake into the oven. When the internal temperature of the cake reaches 95°C, it’s done. Take the cake out of the oven. Keep in mind that it’s very soft at this stage, and you almost think it’s not ready. It is ready, if it reached 95°C so don’t worry. Just let it rest and it will set.
- Mix apricot jam with fresh water, and brush the top of the cake with your jam and water mix, while the cake is still warm. When it cools down, it will become all shiny and nice. The French do this, so trust them.
- Let the cake cool down.
- You’re done with the cake!
Apple cake recipe notes
* Keep it for a rainy day. Or use it for the custard! Too late, the custard is already in the fridge, eh?
** The reason we’re doing this at this stage instead of adding it to the flour mix from the beginning, is because you’ll have better control over how much cardamom flavour you want.
How to serve:
There’s not that much to it, you just cut a piece of apple cake and cover it with vanilla custard. Done. Now eat.