Blue-Ribbon Apple Cake

I love America's Test Kitchen. Here is what they have to say about Apple Cakes:
  • The apples must be cooked before baking to bring out the best of their flavor and reduce the juices that would otherwise turn the cake mushy as they steam. Cooking the apples in butter and sugar until soft adds a deep, caramel flavor to the cake.
  • Not any apple will do. Tart Granny Smith apples provide the brightest, strongest apple flavor and best texture. Many other varieties turned bland and mushy once baked.
  • For the batter, we favor a simple sour cream-style cake above the rest. The crumb is tender and the slight tanginess of the sour cream cuts through the cake’s richness.
  • Lots of recipes use Bundt pans or high-sided cake pans, but we found a low 9-inch cake pan yields the best ratio of cake to apple.
  • Cooling the cake for five minutes before turning it out of the pan allows the caramel on the bottom of the pan time to harden just enough to stick to the apples, not the pan.
The cake turned out buttery and tasty but squishy!! I think I need to figure out a few things such as:
1. were my eggs too old?
2. should I have tested my baking soda or my baking powder?
3. did I add enough flour?
4. was I supposed to beat the eggs more?
5. was I supposed to cook the apple mixture longer until it was super thick?
6. should I have used a darker pan to get browner apples?

4 T unsalted butter
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1/8 t salt
4 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" slices (about 5 cups)
1/2 C sour cream
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
8 T unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into chunks and brought to room temperature
Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9" cake pan.

For the apples
Place butter in large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter has stopped foaming, add sugar and stir to combine. Continue to cook until sugar turns dark brown (it should look like dark brown sugar), about 2 minutes, swirling pan occasionally.

Add salt and apples and fold with spatula to combine. Cook, stirring often, until apples have softened slightly and juices are thickened and syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and spoon apples into prepared cake pan.

For the cake
In small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sour cream, egg, yolk, and vanilla until well combined.

Place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Use electric mixer on low speed for 15 seconds to blend. Add butter and remaining 1/4 cup sour cream and mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Add sour cream/egg mixture and beat on medium-high, scraping down sides of bowl, until batter is homogeneous and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Spoon batter over apples and gently spread out to thin layer that covers apples. Bake until cake is dark golden brown, feels set, and cake tester comes out clean when inserted in center, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Place serving plate over top of pan and invert. Let cake sit inverted for about 1 minute without tapping or shaking pan. Cake will slowly detach itself. Once cake is on platter, gently remove pan. Serve warm (not hot!!!) or at room temperature.

Serves 8, adapted from

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