Cake

Apple Cake

Baking cakes is tough work. Bake them for too long, and they turn out dry. Too little time in the oven? The center is dense and mushy, two words you never want associated with your baked creation. That’s what makes this cake stand out from the rest of the pack – with all of the moisture from the apples, it’s practically impossible to overbake. The finished product has a reliably perfect crumb, one that is light, moist, and flavorful with every bite.

IMG_1311-4

To get started, pick your apples. I like to use a couple of varieties to create a unique flavor and texture – pick apples like Empire, which have a soft, pudding-like effect in the cake. Add a few apples that keep their structure – Braeburns, for example, to create tender apple chunks throughout the batter. Mix the chopped apples with something sweet and flavorful, like sugar and cinnamon, and you have a delicious filling.

For the cake batter itself, feel free to play around with the proportion of white to whole wheat flour. The whole wheat makes the overall flavor more complex, and your apples mean that there is no need to worry about a dry or dense cake. Assemble the cake by alternating batter and apples, and you can pretty much guarantee that the fruit will settle evenly into every slice.

IMG_1303-4

Can’t finish the cake in one night? Rest assured. Unlike most cakes, it only gets better the next day.

Apple Cake Recipe (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.25 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups + 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 6 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into chunks (I used a mixture of Empire, Braeburn, and Macoun)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10 cup bundt pan (or a tube pan is preferable, if you have one).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Prepare the apples. In a medium bowl, combined the apple chunks with the cinnamon and  5 tbsp of sugar. Stir to coat the all apples in the sugary mixture.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil and 2 cups of the sugar. Once the mixture is smooth, add the orange juice, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk for a minute or so, until the wet ingredients are one uniform color.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not to over stir.
  6. Assemble the cake. Start by pouring 1/3 of the cake batter into the bottom of the bundt pan – this will ensure that your cake lifts out easily and does not stick. Then, add half the apple mixture. Top with another 1/3 of the batter, smoothing out as much as possible, and the remaining apples. Add the final layer of batter and place the cake in the oven. Let bake for 90 minutes or so – this is a very moist batter, so slight overbaking will rarely result in too dry a cake. Stick a toothpick into the center of the cake to check for doneness.
  7. Cool completely; invert the bundt pan to unmold the cake, and serve.

 

 

Cake · Dessert · Fruit

Plum Torte

Despite being knee deep in October, plums are still bountiful at my local farmers market. This unexpected harvest inspired me to try the recipe below, shared long ago by the NY Times and now a mainstay in many home cook’s kitchens. This plum dessert makes a surprisingly great neighbor to your other fall favorites, pairing nicely with the season’s pumpkin breads and apple pies.

Plum Torte (3 of 4)

After trying this recipe, there’s no wonder why it continues to rage in popularity. The batter is practically effortless –  the entire recipe can be prepared in one bowl, should you decide to sift the ingredients directly into the batter. The preparation process takes less than 10 minutes, and the majority of your time will be spent salivating at the smells coming out from your oven.

While the original recipes calls for a springform pan, I didn’t have one of those in hand. Instead, I pulled out my handy non-stick cake pan, lined it with parchment paper, and gave it a good coating of butter. This method worked seamlessly, and my cake popped out without a crumb. If you don’t have a springform pan either – there’s no reason to write off this recipe!

Plums for the plum torte (1 of 1)

Plum Torte (1 of 4)

For the topping, lay the plums neatly on the top of the torte. They should be side by side, with little space in between. This will prevent the plums from moving around and sinking into the batter unevenly. There’s no need to push the plums in, though – they collapse naturally into the batter once baking.

Plum Torte (4 of 4)

Plum Torte (adapted from the NY Times)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 plums
  • Cinnamon for dusting
  • 1/2 a lemon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 inch cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter again (you can skip this step if you have a springform pan).
  2. Cut plums in half and remove pits.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light in color, about three minutes.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and eggs to the bowl. Beat on low to medium speed until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Top with plum halves, skin side up. Dust with sugar and cinnamon and squirt with lemon juice.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes and let cool completely.

 

Cake · Dessert

Coconut-y Chocolate Cake

Happy New Year! There’s nothing like starting the new year off with chocolate cake.

New Years Cake 1

The first time I tried this recipe I was looking for a new way to finish off a can of coconut milk.  Half had already gone towards a green curry dinner, and I didn’t want the rest to go to waste.  Curious about other uses for coconut milk, I turned to Google for ideas.

A surprise to me, I learned that coconut milk is frequently used as a milk substitute in baking. I was in the mood for something chocolate, so I decided to give this recipe a try.

The result? An addicting, decadent chocolate cake. While most substitutes in baking tend to fall short, coconut milk adds moisture and richness to every slice. The coconut flavor is mild to non-existent, so it is suitable for coconut lovers and haters alike.

chocolate cake 2
This recipe also makes a great celebration cake. I baked one the other day for New Years Eve, and it was a delicious way to bring in the new year.

Coconut Milk Chocolate Cake Recipe (adapted from The Little Red House)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk (lite)

Instructions:

  1. Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips and cocoa powder.  Pour bowling water into the bowl and mix until the chocolate melts completely. Set aside and let cool.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the butter and sugar and mix on medium until thoroughly combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix for 3-4 minutes.  Slowly add in the coconut milk.
  5. Pour in the chocolate mixture and stir.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  6. Pour cake batter into the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted into the center and comes out clean.

Ganache Icing Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter,cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.  Stir on medium for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly add the coconut milk until the icing reaches the desired texture.