Tag Archives: Apples

French Apple Cake

Last weekend, we drove to Traverse City, Michigan to check out the fall foliage.  Traverse City is a beautiful city to visit at any time but especially so in the fall.  The area has so much natural beauty that it is easy to get the feeling that you really are “up north”.

Traverse City claims that it is the Cherry Capital of the world, and it very well could be true.  The area does produce around 75% of America’s tart cherries.  The cherries were long gone on our visit but local apples were still available.  I found some local Honeycrisp apples from a farm stand on the Old Mission Peninsula Road.

We took a drive along this very scenic route.  It is a beautiful drive no matter what time of the year.  We stopped at a scenic overlook so I could take some pictures. We did see some color, but the colors had not peaked yet.  It was still a beautiful view.  There are several wineries along this road that beckon you to stop and sample local wines.  We saw a lot of grapes still on the vine.

At the end of Old Mission Peninsula Road is the very picturesque Mission Point Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was built in 1870 and is no longer in operation.  However, it is open for tours and provides a great photo opt for visitors.

Downtown Traverse City has a lot of good shopping.  One of my favorite places to shop is the Cherry Republic.  It is the place to go for all things cherry.  They sell everything from cherry jams to your favorite cherry wine.  All of their items are beautifully displayed.  Even if you don’t buy anything, it is a fun place to just look around.

I wanted to make something special with the apples I bought in Traverse City.  My first thought was an apple pie.  But after some research on the web, I found a beautiful French Apple Cake recipe that was perfect for my apples.

It is a recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Once Upon a Chef.  She has great recipes and beautiful pictures detailing the preparation of each recipe.  Please visit her web site to read the inspiration behind her French Apple Cake recipe.  The only change I made was to use brandy instead of rum because that is what I had.

This is a moist and buttery cake with a slight crunch and delicate flavor of the sweet apples.  I like how the top of the cake has a crispy taste from the sugar sprinkled on top.

French Apple Cake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brandy (original recipe calls for dark rum)
2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes (I used Honeycrisp)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Confectioner’s sugar (optional) for decorating the cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9-inch springform cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until until it is light and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add one egg at a time beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add in the vanilla and brandy and beat till combined.  If the mixture looks grainy that is ok.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the chopped apples into the batter mixture.

Spoon the batter into the prepared springform cake pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the top evenly with the 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.  Let the cake cool until just warm.  Carefully run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and then remove the side of the springform cake pan.  With a fine sieve, sprinkle with the Confectioner’s sugar, if using.

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.  

Notes:
 A regular 9 inch cake pan can be used for this recipe.

 

Apple Pie

Apple pie is a favorite American dessert. To a lot of us, it is placed in the category as a comfort food. My favorite times of year to bake an apple pie are during the fall and for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Apple pie tastes good anytime of the year, but it seems to taste even better when made from locally grown apples.

Michigan is the third-largest producer of apples in the United States, behind Washington state and New York. Fortunately, many of the apple orchards are located nearby.

Cooking With Love

One of my favorite orchards to visit is Robinettes which is less than two miles away from my house. It is a fun place to visit, especially in the fall with their corn maize and wagon rides into the orchard. As soon as you walk into their Apple Haus you immediately smell their freshly baked donuts. Kids love having their picture taken in front of their huge red apple.

Robinettes Apple

Even though we are familiar with the phrase “as American as apple pie” apples are not native to the USA. When the colonists arrived in North America, they found only crabapple trees, so apple seeds had to be brought from England to be planted. While we associate the apple pie with such American things as baseball and the Statue of Liberty, history seems to indicate that it is the English who invented the apple pie.

Thanks to Google, I found the following recipe for apple pie that appeared in a scroll of cookery believed to have been written at the end of the fourteenth century. It is the recipes of the Master Cooks of King Richard II. The name of The Forme of Cury was given by Samuel Pegge and was published in 1789 in England. The name translates to The Method of Cooking. Cury being the Middle English word for cookery.

“XXIII. FOR TO MAKE TARTYS IN APPLIS.

Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd [1] wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake well.”

The Forme of Cury is free as an eBook on Project Gutenberg and can be found here.

An American apple pie recipe was first published in 1796 in a cookbook titled American Cookery by Amelia Simmons:

“Stew and strain the apples, to every three pints, grate the peal of a fresh lemon, add cinnamon, mace, rose-water and sugar to your taste–and bake in paste No. 3.”

The above recipe has familiar ingredients such as sugar and cinnamon with mace and rose-water not so familiar. American Cookery was the first known cookbook written by an American, published in Hartford, Connecticut in 1796. Until then, the cookbooks printed and used in the Thirteen Colonies were British.

A free version of American Cookery is also available from Project Gutenberg.

Both of the above referenced cookbooks are available on Amazon at very reasonable prices. I could not resist, so I bought the paperback version of The Forme of Cury and Kindle version of American Cookery. Both books are very interesting to read and are a good source for food history.

the forme of curry 1 american cookbook

The first apple pie I ever baked was from a recipe in a vintage Betty Crocker New Picture Cook Book published in 1961. The cookbook was passed down to me by a favorite aunt and shows its wear and tear.

Betty Crocker's Cook Book

Over the years, I have updated the recipe to the one in this post. It is a family favorite. Apple pie is such an easy pie to bake and everyone seems to appreciate it when you take the time to bake one from scratch.

apple pie 1

Apple Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Double-Crust Pastry

2 1/2 pounds baking apples (about 6 medium or 8 cups), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
juice of half of a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
1 tablespoon coarse sugar crystals, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F

Slice the apples in a large bowl and toss occasionally with the lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning. In a small bowl, mix sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt together. Pour this over the apples and toss to coat well. Transfer the filling to a pastry-lined pie plate and dot with the butter.

Top with the second crust. Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch. Pinch bottom and top crusts together and fold under. Crimp as desired. Cut several small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape while baking. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar crystals.

Place pie plate on a foiled-lined baking sheet and place on lowest rack in oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until apples are tender, juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown. If edges brown too quickly, cover lightly with aluminum foil. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving. Serve with ice cream if desired.

NOTES:
1. I used a Perfect Pie Crust recipe from Barefoot Contessa for this apple pie. Her recipe can be found on the Food Network
2. If you prefer, one box of Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts can be used. I use them quite often. They are easy to work with and produce a flaky crust.
3. I used Golden Delicious apples in this recipe.

apple pie slice