Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Cake

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The after-school grind has been particularly brutal lately. Anybody else counting down the days to Thanksgiving break in part to push the pause button on routine for a couple days? Something about the dark evenings combined with frustrating homework and general fatigue has led to some grumpy and emotional evenings.

A woman I used to work with would always say parenting never gets easier, the hard parts keep changing. I couldn’t agree more. I guess the one silver lining of having a challenging season with kids is that it sparks so many good conversations. Aaron and I talk constantly about how to tweak our parenting to help our family grow. I wish it was as easy as a good conversation and a snap of the fingers.

What does any of this have to do with apple cake? Well, I needed a project to do with the kids. After too many days in a row of arguing over homework and teeth brushing and picking up socks; we needed something fun to do together. I had a bowl full of apples that tasted delicious but were just mushy enough no one wanted to eat them. I quickly skimmed a couple recipes I’d bookmarked and noticed this apple cake. It’s an easy recipe but makes a big statement. Full disclosure: the first time I made this recipe, I used a bundt pan like the recipe suggests and it turned out awesome. I decided to make the cake again and put it in loaf pans so I could send the cakes to Aaron’s office. Well, when I went to flip the cake out of the pan it broke in half and I had to try and put it back together.

Broken apart or not, the cake is delicious. Served warm straight from the oven is the perfect after-dinner dessert but the cake makes a lovely breakfast with a cup of coffee.

Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Cake

For the apples
6 apples (I used gala and Fuji, but use whatever looks good)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons (65 grams) granulated sugar

For the cake
2 3/4 cups (360 grams) flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 cup (235 ml) vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) orange juice
2 1/2 (13 ml) teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Heat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a tube pan. Chop apples into 1-inch chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix wet ingredients into dry ones; scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples (and their juices) over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.*

Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

Do ahead: This cake is awesome on the first day but absolutely glorious and pudding-like on the days that follow, so feel free to get an early start on it. I keep it at room temperature covered with foil.

* Tip: The apples love to hide uncooked pockets of batter, especially near the top. Make sure your testing skewer or toothpick goes not just all the way down to the bottom, but does a shallow dip below the top layer of apples to make sure it comes out batter-free. Should your cake be browning too fast, before the center is baked through, cover it with foil for all but the last few minutes in the oven.

 

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