After a bit of a pause (a school vacation, which I spent working on a farm in Ariège, a region in southwest France nestled in the Pyrenees), I'm back in Toulouse and ready to bring my 3-part series on Apple Desserts to a close (for the time being, at least--I've got a bucket of homemade applesauce in the fridge upstairs that's just begging to be transformed into this applesauce cake).
You might notice that many of the recipes I share on this site are adapted from Smitten Kitchen, and this dessert is no exception (that applesauce cake up there, too, comes from SK). Smitten Kitchen is probably my favorite food blog: the site's author, Deb, always seems to select (or create) the recipes for things I just happen to be craving; her adaptations always makes sense, and her recipes always turn out. I especially like to refer to her when I'm baking, since baking is not my forte but is certainly hers (I mean, the woman's Recipe Index has an entire section devoted to sweets!).
So of course when I was looking for good apple dessert recipes, I went over to Smitten Kitchen first. And this apple cake, that's Deb's mom's recipe, fit the bill exactly. It's moist and sweet, and actually reminds me a great deal of an apple cake that my grandmother makes (I suppose when it comes to apple desserts, it's best to keep it all in the family!). What I love about this recipe is its clever pairing of orange with apple: it calls for a little orange juice to be mixed in with the wet ingredients, and I upped the orange ante by using fresh-squeezed juice, as well as substituting orange blossom water for the vanilla. Insert clever pun on "it's like apples to oranges" here.
I know I said the exact same thing about my pumpkin apple bread, but this cake makes just as good a breakfast as a dessert, and I eat it in exactly the same way: with a bit of plain yogurt, to cut the sweetness and richness. As the cake sits (and it won't last long, trust me!), it gets even more moist and luscious. Who wouldn't want to be greeted by this vision first thing in the morning?
Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Makes 1 cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
8 baking (firm, not too sweet) apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium-sized chunks
1 tbsp. cinnamon
5 tbsp. sugar
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. vegetable oil
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract, or use 1 tsp. almond extract or orange blossom water
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a tube pan or a large rectangular glass baking dish. Toss apple chunks with cinnamon and sugar; set aside.
2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs to wet ingredients, one at a time, mixing well to combine.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until just combined. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with half the apples, distributing evenly. Pour the other half of the batter over the apples; top with remaining apples. Place pan in the oven and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean.