French (Danger) Apple Cake

While TD and I have worked hard to tame Via Corona’s front and side yards, most of the remaining lot has been left to itself.  We aren’t negligent.  The geography of our neighborhood can best be described as canyony (technical term), so many homeowners in the area opt to allow their steeply sloping lots to grow wild.  With the exception of about a four-foot lip right at the house’s edge, our backyard is one giant slip and slide.

The picture above is from the actual real estate listing–before we got our hands on her.

It wasn’t until we closed escrow that we discovered some previous owner had long ago planted a couple of apple trees right off the deck.

In each of the three falls we’ve lived in Via Corona, the trees (more like bushes because of the slope) have born tons of apples.  The first couple of years we left the apples alone because I was afraid of what the construction run-off might have done to the fruit (I have no basis for this fear).

This year however, I got brave.  After several weeks of peering over the side of the deck, I picked my way down the slope and had my own little basic girl fall experience.

In less than 10 minutes, I picked about as many pounds of apples.  We have no idea what kind they are–though they resemble Granny Smith in taste and consistency.

Because of the slope and potential for wild animal encounters (we’re pretty sure the raccoons, skunks and opossums are running an Air BNB under the deck), we’re calling them danger apples.

What do you do with 10 pounds of apples?  I started with this fruit-dense custardy apple cake.

The recipe uses the very clever technique of briefly microwaving the cut apples and then allowing them to cool before folding them into the batter.  This helps move things along cooking wise and helps to keep the cheesecake-like interior..  

We took giant wedges of these with us to see Gary Clark Jr. at the Hollywood Bowl.  And now, I’m back to working up my courage to go in for another 10-20 pounds.

French (Danger) Apple Cake

Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Baking

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wages and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
  • 1 TBS Calvados (I used Tuaca because that’s what I had)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 C plus 2 TBS (5 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 C (7 ounces) plus 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C grapeseed oil
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • Confectioner’s sugar

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat over to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable spray.  Place prepared pan on aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Place cut apples in pie plate, cover and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent (about 3 minutes).
  4. Toss apples with brandy and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk 1 C flour, 1 C granulated sugar and salt together in a bowl.
  6. Whisk oil, milk, egg and vanilla into a second bowl until smooth.  Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  7. Transfer 1 C batter to separate bowl and set aside.
  8. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine.  Gently fold-in apples with a spatula. Transfer batter to prepared pan.  Using an off-set spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing apples to create an even compact layer and smooth surface.
  9. Whisk remaining 2 TBS flour into reserved batter.  Pour over batter in pan, spread batter evenly over cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 TBS of sugar evenly over cake.
  10. Bake until center of cake is set, a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and the top is golden brown (about 1 hour, 15 minutes).  Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Run thin knife around pan to loosen cake, then let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.  Remove sides of pan.  Dust cake lightly with confectioner’s sugar and cut into wedges.  Serve