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Old-fashioned apple cake

(Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe)
September 21, 2011

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Makes one 9-inch round cake

If you rummage through your grandmother’s recipe box, you are sure to find an apple cake recipe. If not, you can borrow this one, which comes from my grandmother, who got it from her mother. There’s not a lot of cake and not a lot of butter, but there’s a whole lot of apples. It is quick to make and comforting to eat warm with afternoon tea or after school on a blustery day. Or entice the troops out of bed in the morning with the aromas of cinnamon and apple baking.

TOPPING

3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon.

2. Cut up the butter and set it aside.

CAKE

Butter (for the pan)
Flour (for the pan)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut in 3/8-inch thick slices

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-round cake pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. Add the 3 tablespoons butter and, with your fingers, crumble it into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs.

3. In a another bowl with a fork, beat the milk, egg, and vanilla until blended. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Transfer the batter to the pan and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.

4. Starting at the outside edge, arrange the apples over the batter in a circular pattern, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter (for the topping). Bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

5. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm, cut in slices.

Sally Pasley Vargas