Wednesday, February 26, 2014

French Apple Custard Cake

 Describing anything with the word "French" adds a certain connotation to the phrase. This varies depending on the situation; French fashion is considered chic, French music is much admired (deservedly so), and let's not forget the beauty of France itself. When it comes to food, French cuisine is often thought of as not only delicious, but also fancy and super complicated to prepare. French pastry chefs have the reputation of being... exacting, to put it mildly.
 This French apple cake goes against everything you probably think of at the mention of French desserts. You won't spend hours folding egg whites or piping frosting, and this doesn't involve an ingredient list as long as the history textbook sitting on your desk (or maybe that's just me...)
  This batter is whipped up in a matter of minutes, and the most work you'll have is the quick chopping of some apples. The thin batter and abundance of fruit create a super moist cake that is almost custard-like, making this perfectly acceptable either as an afternoon snack or as an impressing dessert. If you're going with the latter, I like to add a drizzle of salted caramel sauce and a scoop of this earl grey ice cream. Because let's be honest, doesn't that make everything better?
French Apple Custard Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mixture into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it's evenish.
Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
Serve with caramel sauce, ice cream, whipped cream... or all on its own. Whatever floats your boat.

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