I made an apple cake today. I think I fell in love with apples all over again while in Germany. It seemed as if there were apples, apples, apples everywhere we went (to eat): from the delicious apfelkuchen (apple cakes) sold in the bakeries near our hotel in Frankfurt (which my husband, R, had for breakfast on three consecutive days!) to the red cabbage cooked with apple sauce (I could have this every day!) which accompanied a hearty Bavarian feast in Munich and the delicious apple pastries we had for tea.
So, yes, I suppose it isn't surprising that I bought a bag of apples the day after I arrived home.
I'm still working on making a great apfelkuchen, which is perhaps best described as a yeasted apple cake with a crumb topping. Sounds delicious, right? It is. But I haven't yet got it quite right. Thankfully, the good thing about apple desserts is even the imperfect versions are delicious to eat!
In the meantime, I decided to blog about this simple apple cake which is really just the perfect coffee cake. Apple desserts usually have cinnamon and/or nutmeg in them but I decided to make this one without either and used just lemon (juice and zest) as a flavour enhancer. I marinated the apples in a lemon and sugar emulsion for an hour. Then, I thickened the marinade to use as a glaze once the cake was baked. I also added some lemon zest in the batter.
This cake is moist. The milk AND buttermilk in the batter make for a really tender crumb in which the chunks of cooked apples nestle in quite comfortably. Oh, just looking at the cake feels so comforting.
A word of warning though: the acidity of the buttermilk does tend to make the protein in the eggs coagulate slightly - what this means is your batter will look a little curdled. DON'T throw it away. It isn't spoilt, it's just a reaction to the buttermilk.
Apple and Lemon Cake
5 red apples, skinned, cored and sliced lengthwise.
juice of 1 lemon
150g butter, softened
1 cup castor sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g butter milk
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Marinade the apples in lemon juice and 2 tbsp sugar for about an hour.
Heat over to 170C.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Cream the butter and remaining sugar until pale and light. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate the ingredients well. Add the zest and then add in the flour gradually. Finally, add the milk and buttermilk into the batter and mix to incorporate.
Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch springform pan. Arrange the sliced apples on the top of the cake. Pack as much of the apples as you can in.
Bake for 50-55 mins or until the a tester comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, heat the lemon marinade until it thickens into a syrup. Once the cake is done, spoon the syrup over the cake.
Cool, dust with icing sugar (yeah, so very old fashioned ... but I love it) and serve.