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)
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.