It’s apple-eating season and I’m enjoying the bounty. I’ve been eating local apples since late August and I’m not tiring of them anytime soon. Granny Smiths have been my favorite for a long time, but for the past couple of years, there’s a new apple of my eye, the Pink Lady. She’s a might fine apple with a great sweet/tart balance and a very firm and crisp bite. Not to mention, she’s quite a looker too with that bright red blush and patches of green. Sometimes even the flesh is has pink veins or a pinkish tinge which makes it seem like an extra special kind of apple.
Instead of gobbling up my apples out of hand, I decided to try baking with them. I was recently gifted with the wonderful cookbook, Vintage Cakes, by a dear friend and I can tell you that this book lived up to my high expectations with this one recipe (my friend verifies that the adult gingerbread cake in the book is also a winner). The book is divided into various sections: Flips & Rolls, Party Cakes, Layer Cakes, etc. I headed straight for the Hasty Cakes section because I was looking for a simple, no-fuss recipe. And this cake totally delivered something hasty, charming and completely memorable. Did you notice that it gets baked in a cast iron pan?
The cast iron pan lends a certain rustic charm, but it does more than that. It plays a significant role in giving the bottom and sides of the cake a crispy-chewy edge & bottom while the interior stays tender soft. When you remove the cake from the oven, the pan is still quite hot and bakes up the edges for a good golden chew. I’m sure you could use a regular 10″ cake pan, but I don’t think the outsides would bake up in the same delightful way.
The book calls for pears, but me and pears aren’t good friends. We have a history and it’s not a good one, so I went with apples instead. I decided to keep the peel on the apples since apples are diced into the batter and then fanned out around the top. The peel just makes everything a whole lot prettier, I think. I also switched up the nuts using walnuts instead of sliced almonds since it’s what I had on hand.
This is a completely non-fussy, every day cake. I served it to my in-laws who came for an afternoon visit and this cake was well received. They asked for the recipe and I’m happy to share – it deserves to go into your cake making repertoire immediately. Serving with vanilla ice cream may be optional, but I’d highly recommend it.
elsewhere: It’s totally soup season so head over to Poppytalk and give this Curried Butternut & Red Lentil Ginger Soup a go. It’s delicious and perfect for the season!
ozark pudding cake
(adapted from Vintage Cakes)
2 tart apples
1 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t ground ginger
1/4 t kosher salt
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 c dried cranberries (optional)
1/2 c walnuts, roughly chopped
1 t raw sugar for sprinkling
vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Dice one apple and set aside. Butter a 10-inch cast iron skillet and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.
Blend the butter and sugar together in a mixer until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add in the vanilla and egg and blend until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Turn down the mixer to a low speed and add in the flour, stirring until just blended. The batter will be stiff. Using a rubber spatula, slowly fold in the diced apples, cranberries and half of the walnuts. Dump the batter into the prepared skillet and spread it out into an even layer. Slice the other apple into thin slices, removing the core, and arrange the slices on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts and raw sugar over top.
Place the skillet in the middle of the oven and bake until the cake is golden in color and the center springs back when lightly touched, 38 to 40 minutes. (The heat from the pan will continue to bake the cake after it is removed from the oven, so take care to remove it when it is just barely done). Serve warm from the skillet with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
This cake is best the day it is baked. Well covered, it keeps in the skillet for up to 2 days at room temperature.
I can’t get enough of apples either! Pretty sure I literally eat one a day while they’re in season. And yes, Pink Lady apples are the best! This cake is gorgeous…can’t wait to try it before the season is up!
What a pretty cake! I don’t know what I’d do without my cast iron pans… they are awesome for so many things.
I am seriously in love with cakes that are baked in a cast iron skillet – they are so rustic and beautiful. And THIS cake – my oh my, I just know I would love it. You just can’t go wrong with apples.
Hooray for cake! Fruit-filled cakes like this are totally my favorite, and with apples all over the market–well. This should certainly happen. 🙂
I have this book on my wish list; your cake looks lovely, with the usual stellar styling and photos. Thank you!
Me too, Joanne! I love ’em. Do try this cake, it’s fantastic!
Melissa, agreed. I love my pans and recently re-seasoned mine since it was becoming a little dry and dull. Now it’s perfect 🙂
I love them too, Amanda! This cake is pretty spectacular. Enjoy!
Eileen, I love fruit cakes too. This one is packed full of nuts, apples and dried cranberries. It’s perfect.
Donna, it’s a great book and I can’t wait to dig in more. Thanks for your kind words about my photos too 🙂
I happened to have all of these ingredients on hand (and usually do, so this will make another appearance soon!) so I made this for dessert (and pre-dinner snack…and tomorrow’s breakfast…). I used almonds and substituted dried cherries for the cranberries. I dialed down the ginger and added in a little bit of cardamom. The cake seems like it would be perfect for all kinds of adaptations depending on what you have in the kitchen.
I’m totally with you on keeping the skin on the apples! 🙂
I love these simple homey cakes. I haven’t come across this book, but it sounds fantastic! I’m always so happy to see that people are preserving traditions and recording vintage recipes.
What a delightful cake! Its even good the next morning served with a bit of vanilla yogurt!! Yes the boys loved eating cake for breakfast!! I ran short of AP flour so I added a touch of whole wheat. Between snack and breakfast the whole thing is gone… I’ll be making many of these in the near future, subbing in whatever fruit we have on hand at the time. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe!!
Lauren, I’m so glad you loved this cake! I love the idea of using cardamom and ddried cherries!! Nicely done.
Jess, it’s a great book – be sure to put it on your xmas list!
Yes, I agree, Peggy. We ate this for breakfast too and I’m glad it worked out with a bit of whole wheat flour thrown in too. So glad you enjoyed this as much as I did.
I actually much prefer my apples baked into cakes than eaten fresh…It’s funny, they are one of those fruits I generally find ‘boring’ (compared to summer stone fruits and citrus) but when they’re flecked inside a gorgeous rustic cake like yours, well, that’s another story!
I want to make this yesterday. I think it will go very well with the President’s Choice Black Label vanilla ice cream I just bought. We have been eating the salted caramel flavour and I highly recommend it!
Mmm, I like the sound of the Vintage Cakes book and my mother-in-law would really enjoy this rustic apple cake. Bookmarking now.
Kasey, I’m the complete opposite. I like the crunch and tartness of apples. Stone fruits are less appealing to me! But they’re lovely in this cake.
Ooooh, I’m interested, Lydia. Maybe I’ll have to pick some up 🙂
Joanne, hopefully you’ll like this one too! It’s yummy.
Just beautiful. And just the kind of recipe I needed to use up the last couple of apples on the counter. I love Pink Lady apples too – they are a new favorite at our house but I’ve yet to bake with them.
This is getting made soon – maybe today!
Needful Things, I hope you love this cake – it’s a new favorite for me. Enjoy!
I found this to be way too sweet. I liked the pudding-like texture, but I could barely eat any of this because it was so rich. Looking back at the 1:1 flour to sugar ratio, I guess I should have suspected that outcome. I wonder if it would still work well with less sugar?
OP, I think you could reduce the sugar. It helps if your apples are on the tart side – I think it provides a good balance. But definitely try to reduce the sugar & let me know how it goes.
My wife made this for me using your recipe for my lunchbox the other day. Made the mistake of giving some to my fellow builders during our lunch break. hardly got to try a crumb! Oh well, she’ll just have to make me another one!
made this a few times now – tonight i’m subbing in nectarines, took out the ginger and nuts, mostly because ive no apples, ginger or nuts, buti do have nectarines. I’ll see how it turns out