Where do I begin? Maybe with an apology? It has been the longest I have ever been away from blogging. My last post was in early September and then...life got in the way. Jeff and I were planning a trip to France and leaving the first week in October. As we tried to get many of our work commitments taken care of, things needed to be done around the house and it seemed like we were coming home later and later and cooking less and less. I knew that once we got back from vacation, I would jump back into cooking, baking and blogging.
After eating the most amazing French food for 12 days, we came home with some great ideas for the blog. The first thing we did was have a "guinea pig" dinner with our close friends. For those not familiar with guinea pig dinner, we invite friends and tell them we are trying some new recipes and ask if they would like to be our victims or guinea pigs. We haven't had anyone turn us down and I am proud to say everyone has lived. Last night, we decided to find some French recipes, pair them with some great French wines and talk about our adventures from Paris to Aix-en-Provence.
We have a few French cookbooks but our favorite is Dorie Greenspan's "around my french table". We have made numerous recipes from this cookbook and the dishes always turn out wonderful. Now that we have been to France and tasted some of the cuisine, the recipes brought back great memories. Marie-Helene's Apple Cake seemed to be the perfect choice for dessert.
So, we chose a squash soup for a first course, a veal dish for the dinner and an apple cake for dessert. I will start with dessert and work back into the meal. What I loved abut this recipe was the limited number of ingredients and the ease of making it. I started by cutting my apples and chose 4 different types: MacIntosh, Jonagold, Fuji and Macoun. The recipes couldn't have been any easier...eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and dark rum. The smell of the dark rum was amazing. When I put it into the cake, I realized that the basics to this recipe had been kicked-up a notch.
Into the oven it went and I waited an hour and then some. Once it was golden brown, I removed it from the oven. As the cake cooked, it didn't look like the cake Dorie made. Mine looked like I had more apples, but none the less, it still looked delicious. The smell of apple cake filled the kitchen. I let the cake cool and put it aside until dinner was finished. When I brought out the cake, you could smell the apples and a hint of the rum, I couldn't wait to have a bite. After cutting the cake and serving it with the vanilla creme fraiche, I grabbed a fork and dug in. It was slightly dense but sweet and tart, there was a taste of rum which tied in nicely as the cake wasn't overly sweet. All the guests agreed, it was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening of french cuisine. With only a small wedge left, it was devoured by lunch today.
This is a great dessert that is simple to make and wonderful to eat! Apples are in season, so grab a few varieties and try this recipe before the holidays. Maybe instead of an apple pie, you might want this apple cake. If not, this would be a wonderful dessert to serve on any cold afternoon with a hot cup of cinnamon coffee. Bon appetit!
Marie-Helen's Apple Cake (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
4 large apples (your choice of apples), peeled, cored and cut into 2 inch cubes
3/4 cup of flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of dark rum
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of butter (8 tablespoons), melted and cooled slightly
1 small container of vanilla creme fraiche
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and generously butter an 8 inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the pan on it.
2. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt. Put aside.
3. In a medium bowl, add the 2 large eggs and whisk until foamy. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended about one minute.
4. Whisk in the vanilla and the rum.
5. Add half the flour mixture to the bowl. Whisk until blended. Add half the melted butter, and whisk until smooth. Repeat again, finishing the flour and butter.
6. Using a spatula, fold in the apples chunks.
7. Place in the oven for 70-80 minutes or until slightly golden on the top or a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Place on a cooling rack.
8. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then run a knife around the edges of the springform pan and then remove the sides, allowing the cake to further cool.
9. Serve with a small side of vanilla creme fraiche...perfect!
9. After serving, this cake lasts for 2-3 days. It can be left out and you don't need to cover the top. Use plastic wrap or wax paper to cover cut sides.