Foodiva's Kitchen: Spelt Apple Pie Cake

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spelt Apple Pie Cake


When it came to discovering the intricacies of the opposite sex, I was definitely a late bloomer. It wasn't until I was out of my teens (20, in fact) when I had my first romantic liaison. He was my first take-home beau (to meet the parents, that is) and he was French. Boy, was I glad I waited...

We met at University and during some semester breaks, we would drive across the English Channel to spend some time at his family's home in the French countryside. The days were idyllic and amongst other things, I learnt how to pick grapes from the vineyard, and plums, cherries, apples from the orchard. Those were my first farm-to-table experiences but being a young lass, I had little appreciation of what that really meant.

The first time we went apple-picking, we'd spread a canvas blanket at the base of the tree before he climbed up the apple tree and shook a fruit-laden branch. To my amazement, a number of red apples came showering effortlessly down to the ground, every one of them missing my head like a miraculous spectacle. 


Of course, in a commercial orchard this tree-shaking business wouldn't have been allowed because the fallen apples would have been  heavily bruised and unsuitable for sale. Well, I didn't know any better in those days, and as we laid back against the canvas munching our crisp, red apples, I marvelled at how unglossy (unwaxed) they were and how authentically sweet they tasted. Needless to say, those times brought me so much joy.

His grandmother was kind enough to teach me how to bake those freshly-picked fruits into the most wonderful tarts and cakes. In the process, she also taught me how to light up her antique Aga oven and control its temperature, something I'd never done before and never again since. All this while we communicated in what can be best described as sign language because my French, like my kitchen skills, was totally atrocious.


The memories of those carefree, younger days spent in France have inspired me to try out this foolproof recipe. You can't go wrong with an apple cake really, and this one is so easy you may be able to do it blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back. But why make life harder for yourself?

I called it the apple pie cake because while it uses a cake batter, the apples are stacked up neatly inside the the way you'd do it if it was in an apple pie. The recipe is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan's Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, except that I used spelt flour instead of all purpose, and olive oil instead of butter (and I've adjusted the measurements too).

The cake is incredibly soft and moist, almost pudding-like and on the brink of fragility because the scant batter held up the apples just so. The spelt and olive oil may have something to do with this tenderest of textures, but the densely stacked up apple slices sure did their bit too. It's lovely eaten fresh, but taste even better the next day. Definitely a go-to cake - both to bake and eat - after a long day when nothing seems to go as planned!

 

Spelt Apple Pie Cake
Ingredients:
1½ cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Icing sugar, to dust

Method:
1.Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 175C/350F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet (I used a silicone flower mold that was easy to remove).
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
3. Peel the apples and remove the cores. Slice the apples sideways into ½ cm thick round slices, with a hole in the middle where the core used to be.
4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Add in the sugar and vanilla and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the olive oil, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining olive oil, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Spoon a layer of the batter into the base of the pan, then arrange a layer of apples on top. Repeat until you run out of batter and apples (the batter layers will have to be thin as there isn’t much of it), end with batter layer. Press down gently on the apples with the spatula so that the top layer is fairly even.
5. 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.
6. 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. Once completely cooled, dust icing sugar on top. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature and actually tastes better the next day.

36 comments:

Quay Po Cooks said...

Maya, LOVELY POST, RECIPE AND PHOTOS! I can't take my eyes off those stunning photos, The perfect lighting and composition! You are indeed a Foodiva but now you have to add to it,Photodiva too:D I must consult you on what settings you use to take such lovely photos. Have nice weekend!

Foodiva said...

Hahaha... a Photodiva, now that's a first! Thank you very much, but honestly I just shoot everything with a prosumer camera, it's not even a DSLR. Sad, but true. I also shoot in natural light, and on the day I made this, the sun was shining very brightly!

Carolyn said...

What a sweet post, I could almost feel the relaxed, quiet days spent in vineyards and orchards. And the recipe is to die for, I'd love to make it sometime!

Kate @ Diethood.com said...

Gorgeous presentation - that cake sounds easy to make, but it looks delicious! Great post!

Foodiva said...

Carolyn, those were the good old days! Even though I've worked in some of the world's major cities, I've never lost my love for the countryside. I'm a better country bumpkin than I ever am a city slicker! ;-)

Foodiva said...

Kate, it IS easy and delicious, and that's a major plus for this recipe!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

This apple pie cake really looks wonderful and delicious! Real homemade with the best ingredients! What could be better! Just love those layers of apples you arranged so nicely. Do you take this fabulous pictures yourself? They are truly beautiful!!!

Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon said...

Absolutely. Brilliant. This cake looks fantastic, and I don't think I've EVER met someone who didn't like apple pie...so I'm sure the same goes for your cake :) I love your story of picking fresh apples in the French countryside. While I've never been there, your cooking story allowed me to picture it perfectly :)

And PS--I also just read your lentil hot dog recipe and I am SO MAKING IT soon! The tofu in my fridge is currently reserved for a chocolate mousse I'm making this week (oh yum!), but my next trip to the grocery store will involve another package of tofu...for your recipe!

Elisabeth said...

Maya-Loved your sweet story, really enjoyed reading it. Lovely star shape of the dough, and the way you layered the apples. I love the photos of the different apple cores...such a brilliant idea!
The cake looks gorgeous, and mouthwatering!

Foodiva said...

Arthur, my food stylist and professional photographer are costing me a fortune! Haha, I'm only kidding... Yes, I took all these shots, in all sorts of positions in the kitchen. You really don't want to know! In fact, I think it's better if you didn't.

Foodiva said...

Kylie, thank you so much for your kind comments on the cake. France should be one to put on your '1000 Places To See Before You Die' list. And of course it doesn't have to be in the countryside, you can start with Paris!

I hope the lentil hotdogs will live up to your expectations and in the meantime, I can't wait for your chocolate mousse recipe using tofu!

Foodiva said...

Elisabeth, funnily enough that picture of the apple cores is my favorite amongst the lot too! Even though they had nothing to do with the recipe, they looked so whimsical lined up like that. My inner child wanted to capture this for posterity, I guess! :-)

the [sugar] apothecary said...

That looks awesome! I'm more inclined to pie my apples than make them into a cake, but I love the layers! Mmm apple cake. The cores look pretty dang artful for being scraps :)

Evan Thomas said...

This looks great! Love the layering

Sandra said...

Amazing, fabulous, pretty and of course look so tasty! I love your photos! Nicely done!

Dee Dee's Delights said...

I love this. i look forward every fall to apple picking. this looks like heaven!

Shelby said...

This looks delicious! I love using spelt flour - will definitely be trying your recipe!

briarrose said...

Charming post with a delicious cake.

Sandra said...

I have little blog award for you at my blog!

Chef Dennis said...

I have to agree not only a wonderful cake, your images are beautiful! Thanks for telling us more about you, its always nice to learn about our friends.
Cheers
Dennis

Foodiva said...

Thank you everyone for your really kind words. They really make my day!

Sandra, you're such a darling for the Sisterhood of Bloggers Award. We sistas need to stick together, yes!

Foodiva said...

Dennis, how wonderful to have you back here. Your supportive comments mean a lot to me and to the many others in the blogging community. You're our rock, as well as our rock star in the Rasta hat! LOL.

Steph said...

What a great post!! And great cake! I'm drooling :)

Stephanie said...

Oooh I love the idea of a pie cake. This looks incredibly moist and delicious. Also, I have to agree with everyone else - gorgeous pictures!

Kim - Liv Life said...

I love spelt! Your pie/cake is just the perfect dessert for me, I'll take this over a cookie or cake any day. Apple was always requested for my birthday when I was younger too!
Loved your story about your French romance!

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious apple pie cake haven't used spelt flour in it before this looks good

A little bit of everything said...

what a wonderful post Maya. I remembered being at my Grandparents and living life under the trees in their yard and waiting for the fruits to ripen to pick them.
your cake sounds delicious. thanks for sharing.
Have a wonderful weekend

Trix said...

I want to hear more about this French fellow!!! Sounds quite fantastic!! So I take it you have a coy of Around My French Table now? Will you be doing FFwD? This is a really lovely cake, and I love how you used spelt flour and it still looks quite light. So pretty!!!

Victoria said...

What great memories! I wish a had a French boyfriend to go apple-picking with, haha. This cake is sublime, I love how beautiful it is with the apples stacked inside, and it looks rustic, yet refined. Thank you for sharing :)

Foodiva said...

Trix, about that French fellow, I'll email you about him...haha. As for Dorie's cookbook, I actually got the recipe off Amazon when I was checking reviews for the book! Once I get hold of a copy, I'll of course be joining FFwD. Looking forward to that!

Foodiva said...

Victoria, you don't need a boyfriend of any nationality to go apple-picking with, but of course it's nice if you do ;-). Rustic, yet refined... that sounds a bit like me!

thelonelyradish.com said...

I LOVE this cake. And your story. :)

Spicie Foodie said...

Hi Maya, You always leave me in awe! There is always a beautiful story to go with the beautiful recipe and that is why love your blog. The cake looks so delicious and love the way it a pie in a cake - so to speak:) Thanks for sharing your young romance story and the fantastic recipe.

Foodiva said...

Awww, Nancy, your blog and YOU leave me in awe! If I've achieved half the things that you've done so far, I'd be majorly happy ;-).

FOODESSA said...

Ohh Maya...the story brought me personally back to some pitter patter moments of my own when my first very young experience was on an Italian vacation...ahhh...those were memories I'll never forget either. Sweet moments indeed!

This apple delight not only sounds great...it looks fabulous...especially by having used that pan...great idea!

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Magic of Spice said...

What a lovely story...and this is definitely the most gorgeous pie I have ever seen :)

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