Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apple of my eye

This is one of my favorite desserts for this time of year: super simple, gently flavored, every bit as good as what you put into it. (In other words, a strong, sweet-tart apple with no mealiness or mush.) And how can you resist something with the French name Gateau aux Pommes de la Reine des Pommes? (in French, the Apple Lady is promoted to the Queen of Apples--good for her!) It's almost a cross between cake and clafoutis, with an eggy batter just enveloping sliced and peeled apples. You could dress it up with a homemade caramel sauce and some whipped cream, or enjoy it warm from the oven a la mode; it's great cold, too.

Patricia Wells' "The Apple Lady's Apple Cake" from The Paris Cookbook

1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/8 t fine sea salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T vegetable oil (I use canola or grapeseed)
1/2 cup whole milk (if you only have lowfat around, that's fine)
4 large or 6 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges (about 2 lbs. total)

The topping:

1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Butter a 9 inch springform pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and sea salt, and stir to blend. Add the vanilla, eggs, oil and milk and stir until well blended. Add the apples and toss to coat thoroughly with the butter.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until fairly firm and golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping by combining all ingredients in a small bowl, and stirring to blend. Set aside.

When you remove the cake from the oven, pour the topping mixture over it and return to the oven for another ten minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown. The cake should feel quite firm when pressed with a finger.

Cool in pan on a rack for ten minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the pan, and release and remove the springform side, leaving the cake on the pan base. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature in thin wedges.

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