It's apple picking season, which is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the smell of the orchard, and sinking my teeth into a sun warmed just-picked apple is just heaven. We took the kids out to the Mackintosh Fruit Farm in Berryville, Virginia and spent a good part of the day running up and down the rows of apple and pear trees, as well as scoring some beautiful vegetables from the farm and even concord grapes for jelly. We went crazy for the Gala apples, which are one of my favorites for snacking but also hold up in a cake or pie.
Just about every country in the world with apple trees has one or more favorite apple cake recipe, and I don't have a favorite, though I love my mother's cake which has a touch of rum, as well as the Ukrainian version with its pancake-like batter, and German streusel, of which my grandmother was a big fan. This cake is nicely balanced and not too sweet, and pairs brilliantly with honey-sweetened sour cream. It is best served warm from the oven, but this cake will also keep wrapped in foil on your counter for a couple of days. My family polished it off in about 36 hours, eating a slice for breakfast and another for dessert.
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch fine kosher sea salt
4-6 firm, sweet apples, like Gala or Ginger Gold
3 large eggs
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/4 cup sour cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy, then whisk in the cane sugar, vanilla, and rum. Whisk in the sour cream.
5. Switching to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in 1/3 cup of the flour until combined. Then mix in about 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Fold in another 1/3 cup of the flour, then mix in another 2 tablespoons of butter. Finally fold in another 1/3 cup of flour. Mix until you have a nice, thick and smooth batter.
6. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Spread apples in an even thick layer across the bottom of the the prepared cake pan.
7. Pour the cake batter over the apples, using your spatula or wooden spoon to scrape every last bit of batter into the cake pan. Gently shake and tilt the cake pan so the batter is evenly distributed and settles around the apples.
8. Place the cake pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. While the cake is baking make the streusel.
9. In a small bowl mix together the remaining flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon until well combined and clumpy.
10. After 45 minutes remove the cake from the oven. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly all over the cake and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
11. Remove the cake from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Let cool for 20 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Release the springform, slice, and serve! This cake will keep for up to 2 days wrapped in foil. Serve with honey-sweetened sour cream.