Wednesday, September 17, 2014

French apple cake

In case you didn't know it by now, I'm a big fan of celebrations.

Tell me it's your birthday, and I'll bake you whatever you want.  Just got engaged?  Let's raise a glass of bubbly!  Or, would you look at that, the calendar says that it's the third Tuesday of the month; we should definitely treat ourselves to mini chocolate chip cookie sundaes.

In other words, life is full of victories, big and small, that are all worthy of pep and commemoration and -- if we're being totally honest -- a little sugar.

Today, I'm happy to share the wonderful news that Matt has a new teaching job!!

We got word earlier this week and are over the moon with excitement!  He starts next week and can't wait to discover all of the challenges and rewards that come with new beginnings.

I'm so, so proud of him.  It may sound silly, but I truly had to restrain myself from climbing onto the roof and shouting out the news for everyone to hear.

Instead, I called a bajillion friends and family and used a month's worth of cell phone minutes.  Okay, so I didn't technically do the latter since everything is unlimited this and unlimited that.  But, if this were 2004 and monthly phone minutes were limited, I most certainly would've blown through 'em by now.

Somewhere, my friends are reading this and laughing and pointing out that my current cell phone is actually from 2004.

Anyway.  Back to the real reason to celebrate: my newly-employed husband!

I wanted to make a special meal at home, highlighted by a dessert that would make him weak in the knees, like an apple or cherry pie.  Since my plans to bake were a little spontaneous -- I didn't have enough butter to make two pie crusts nor the time -- I decided to try something new: a French apple cake.  New dessert for a new job, I say!

Despite its name (and implied fanciness), this cake could not have been any easier to make.  Basic pantry ingredients do the trick.

Between you and me, the hardest thing was resisting the urge to add cinnamon.  Because apples and cinnamon go together like peanut butter & jelly... or apples and cinnamon!  Instead, I listened to Dorie, who urges bakers to leave out the cinnamon because it's not very French.

Pfffff.  What do the French know?

As it turns out, a whole heck of a lot, namely how to make an apple cake that nearly had an apple pie lover converted and ready to board a plane to Paris.

Simple and sweet with such a pure apple flavor.  I'm still a cinnamon lover through and through, but this cake surprised both of us at how delicious an apple dessert could be without bold spices.  In other words, sneaky yet spectacular!

This French apple cake is the perfect make-anytime-cake, whether you're celebrating a new job, an afternoon reunion lunch with friends, or the fact that your technology-resistant husband might finally switch to a smart phone, leaving you the sole dumb phone user on the planet :)

One year ago: The best Sloppy Joes
Two years ago: Three bean & beef chili
Four years ago: Turkey meatloaf with fontina & mushrooms

French Apple Cake
(adapted slightly from Dorie Greenspan's recipe)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
4 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
French vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan, place on a baking sheet, and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, then whisk in sugar and vanilla.  Whisk in half of the flour mixture, stirring until combined, followed by half of the melted butter.  Repeat with remaining flour and melted butter.  Fold in apples, tossing until evenly coated.  Pour into prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Remove pan to wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan, loosening cake and any apples that may be sticking to edge of pan before removing springform pan ring.  Serve cake warm or at room temperature with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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