12.26.2015

An Apple a Day...

While it might keep the doctor away, my new saying is, "An apple a day makes a great cake."

When I first saw this Apple Honey Cake recipe, I thought it sounded so good I’d make it that day. It was market day, and we are at peak apple season here in Tucson.

At the market it occurred to me I hadn't noticed how many apples the recipe required, so I bought six, figuring it should be more than enough.

I got home and started prepping for this cake from the Veneto region of Italy.

As I scanned the left column of the recipe for the number of apples, I kept missing it because I was looking for a number greater than one. Yes, this cake calls for only one apple.

"I get it," I thought. The apple just adds moisture and isn't really there for the flavor. Like using applesauce to reduce the oil or butter in some cakes.

So, I made the cake with the new mindset that this was going to be a honey spice cake.

I was proven wrong. The honey was subtly discernible and the apple flavor was great! How could one apple do so much?

Like many Italian cakes, this is not overly sweet (considering the amount of sugar and honey in it), and it certainly isn't fancy. Simply dusted with some confectioner's sugar, it is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, cocoa, or coffee. I imagine that those who order pumpkin-chai-latte-caramel-macchiatos will find a slice a perfect seasonal match!

One final note: I always enjoy a cake that has a little polenta in the batter, as it makes for a nice, subtly crunchy texture, and this one has it.

~ David

Apple Honey Cake

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup fine polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 large tart apple
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light honey
2 large eggs
teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
confectioner's sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F, and position a rack in the center. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter, dust it with flour, and tap to knock out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, polenta, baking powder, salt, and spices together; set aside. Peel the apple and grate it, using the medium side of a box grater. Place grated apple in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Cream the butter, olive oil, and sugar together until fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the honey until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl, followed by the vanilla extract. Beat in half the dry ingredients, followed by all the milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the remaining dry ingredients. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds to emulsify the batter. Gently fold in the grated apple.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar to serve.


Serves 8.


41 comments:

  1. Polenta and a tart apple? The cake sounds delicious and looks it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, Susan! I just wish you could make it for Michael.

      Delete
  2. I adore apple cake of any kind... this sounds divine, David. Happy holidays xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am with you, Liz - and everything about this cake is perfect for me.

      Delete
  3. Looks wonderful, David! The British part of me would omit the spices as I think American apple pies have done me in, unfortunately. I showed my mother your cake and she would love to make it, too, but we may have a problem as she loves the spices! haha! Will let you know what happens! Hope you had a lovely Christmas, and Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christina - Mark sometimes feels the same, but these spices are really subtle. Let me know the outcome of the battle of the apple cake!

      Delete
  4. Ooh I like the use of spices in this one, and something tells me Dean would as well. Now, I wonder if there's an apple in the house somewhere?

    ReplyDelete
  5. David, not only does this recipe sound delicious but your photography is fantastic. I am just as excited to savor the design details . . .your use of crystal, cutlery, porcelain, etc. You curate this blog so beautifully. Thank you for your inspiration on so many levels!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Kimberly! Such a nice comment!

      Delete
  6. Hi David, I love this cake, it's the kind that appeals to everyone and is perfect for any time of day. We are having the best baking weather right now, happy Holidays to you and Mark.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Cheri - anything to keep the oven going these chilly days is a good thing! Happy New Year to you both!

      Delete
  7. It must have been one "magic" apple! GREG

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looks moist, gorgeous and delicious, D.
    I will have to try this simply elegant cake!
    Wishing you a very happy 2016! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Colette! Happy New Year to you, Shawn, and Daisy, as well! xox

      Delete
  9. This is a perfect little cake for company. Gorgeous post. Can't wait to bake one of these! Happy New Year, David!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Msrcelle - loved your Christmas post! Such a beautiful family you have!

      Delete
  10. I love these kind of cakes! I don't eat apples, don't know why. I rarely grab an apple and chow down but I absolutely love baking with them...cakes, crumbles, tarts, you name it!
    I also love polenta cakes, so this a lovely cake for me.
    Have a wonderful New Year dear David! Wishing you and Mark much success and happiness in 2016.
    Nazneen xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nazneen, I used not to eat apples because they gave me indigestion. I then discovered that it was the skins - chemically treated! Since I have been eating organic apples, I am much happier! Glad you like the recipe. Happy New Year to you, Trace and the kids!

      Delete
  11. Dear David, at firts, I thought that you had given Dorie´s much beloved "MARIE-HÉLÈNE'S APPLE CAKE" a go...but this recipe sounds delightful as well - moist, with spices and apples - perfect for this time of year!
    Wishing you and Mark a very Happy New Year, happiness, health, marvelous food and all...
    Andrea & Co.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vielen Dank, Andrea! I must now look up Marie-Hélène's apple cake! Mark's and my best wishes to you, Thomas and the girls for a happy, healthy, and adventure-filled 2016!

      Delete
  12. Looks delicious! I often make an Italian polenta and orange cake; the apple and polenta combination is new to me. Will certainly try it in the coming days. Happy New Year, David!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna - thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it. I have enjoyed treading all your wonderful travel posts this year, and look forward to visiting Italy vicariously again this year. Maybe the following year will bring a virtual trip to Italy! Happy new Year!

      Delete
  13. This is my favorite kind of cake! Simple, packed with lots of flavor, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar! For me it can’t get better! It actually reminds me of the cakes we were served when we were in Italy last year. Bookmarking this one!
    Happy New Year, David!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simple is always best, Kathy! It is very much like cakes we have had in Italy - no frills, but lots of flavor.

      Delete
  14. Oooh, I bet the polenta in the batter is great! I love that texture. Sounds like a delightful cake! I love not-too-sweet desserts. My latest post is a not-too-sweet Italian dessert too! It's the zeppole my mom always made for Christmas breakfast. That powdered sugar dusting is really all it needs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caroline - your zeppole make me want to get a deep fryer! I think the not-too-sweetness of Italian desserts is what make them so wonderful. Although, it is funny, a guest the other day remarked that Italian desserts are way too sweet! I wonder where he is eating?

      Delete
  15. May not be "fancy" but really has an elegance to it. And how interesting that the apple flavor came through like that! I am eating more apples this year. We (finally) got a new organic grower is southeastern Wisconsin and I felt like a kid in a candy shop trying new varieties. I also have a ton frozen for winter, so this cake may be in my future too! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inger - I used not to eat apples (at least with their peels) because I felt ill after ingesting all the chemicals in the peels. I really love now when apple season rolls around and I get locally grown apples with great taste and no belly ache! Glad you have a grower that is doing the same for you!

      Delete
  16. Like several readers wrote and others alluded to, this is also my kind of cake! I love the polenta, butter, and apple! I will be making this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had my very first polenta cake at your home, Susan! With blackberry compote. Have been enjoying all variety of polenta cakes since.

      Delete
    2. How do you remember these things?

      I just made THIS recipe and LOVED it, as did the whole table of ten! I served it with a mixture of vanilla icecream with a little salted caramel--a delicious combination!

      Delete
    3. I was just saying to Paolo (for my podcast) that I tend to remember most good food, where I had it, and with whom! Glad you enjoyed the cake, Susan! The combination of the vanilla and salted caramel ice cream sounds excellent.

      Delete
    4. Okay, I made it again! So good, so easy! A real crowd pleaser!

      Delete
    5. SO glad it continues to delight!

      Delete
  17. This looks like the perfect cake to have on your kitchen counter any day of the week. By the way, I also have a weakness for polenta in cakes. Have you ever tried making Amor Polenta? Funnily enough (referring to my comment on your previous post), I was able to unmold the cake perfectly for that blog post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Amor Polenta blog post... sorry, that wasn't very clear

      Delete
    2. I just checked out your post - can't wait to try that, and it looks like it came out beautifully!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.