We first ate this cake in the fruitful Val di Non in Trentino, where orchards abound. Back home we didn’t know which apple variety to use, so we called Karen Bates, of the Philo Apple Farm in the Anderson Valley in California, who passed on these tips: Early apples tend to break down very easily—great for applesauce and very tender, juicy pies. Midseason apples cook up fairly tender and hold their shape, while late-season apples border on staying a little too firm and are a lot less juicy. So make your applesauce early in the season and store your late apples as long as you can. We decided on Golden Delicious for their rich perfume and the ability to hold their shape when cooked.–Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer
LC Did You Read The Above Note? Note
Did you read the above note? There’s some serious wisdom in there about the seasonality of apples and what to do with the various varieties in the kitchen depending on when they show up at your local farmers’ markets. Print it out and tape it to the inside of a cabinet, tuck it into your billfold, stick it to your forehead if you have to, or do whatever it takes to commit it to memory. Just don’t forget it.
Special Equipment: 9-inch springform pan
Apple Cake Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 8 to 10
- 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
- Grated zest of 2 small lemons, preferably organic
- 2 to 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
- Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
- 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
- 2. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- 3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Gradually add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the zest. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.
- 4. Arrange the apple slices in a circle on top of the batter, starting at the edge of the pan and standing them on end with the narrow point in the batter, then fill in the center with as many slices as you can fit. The apples should be quite close together and cover most of the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar over the apples.
- 5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake (not the apples) comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack, remove the outer ring, and allow the cake to cool. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar just before serving, if you like.