It is no coincidence that apple cake seems to be everywhere I look this week (as well as last week and most likely next, too). It is apple season, after all. Jess at Sweet Amandine even wrote about apple cake twice within the space of one week! (I didn’t come upon her posts until too late – her second recipe is very much in the same vein as the version I landed on, and sounds quite delicious). Before going to a breakfast date at someone’s house last week, I knew I wanted to bake something fruity and not too sweet to bring along. I had very specific details in mind: I wanted something baked in a loaf pan, imagining the nice square shape of the slices that would result. I was also thinking of the ease in transporting a nice compactly sized cake on the subway. I definitely wanted something that included spice – namely cinnamon – and possibly nuts. Something that was sweet with fruit, but not sweet - at least not in a cloying or desserty way. But the main trait I was going after was the sturdy, nutty, moist texture that comes from whole grain flour.
I looked through a few of my cookbooks, but didn’t unearth any recipes that hit the exact notes I had in mind. When I casually asked my friend Mary is she had such a recipe, bingo! – not only did she have a special recipe (one she’s been making annually for many years), but she had just made it a few days earlier and still had some wrapped up in her fridge at home. The next day she brought me a sample to taste, and it was exactly what I had been imagining – grainy whole wheat texture, moist, fragrant, fruity and not too sweet. It was not baked in a loaf pan, but no matter, a regularly shaped cake would do just fine. I tweaked her recipe slightly in that I substituted a combination of maple syrup and maple sugar for the white sugar. Maple sugar is a new discovery for me. I bought some while visiting Mapleland Farms during Farm Camp recently and it’s nothing short of amazing. To smell it is like sniffing a beautiful eau de maple cologne, it is so very fragrant. Couple of notes: I am crazy for cinnamon and doubled the amount here, but feel free to cut back to 1 teaspoon. I used a combination of Golden Delicious, which I had from my CSA delivery, and Empire apples. I peeled the apples, but the skins may be left on. I used whole wheat pastry flour. All-purpose whole wheat flour would be fine, but do not use whole wheat bread flour as it contains too much gluten. Thanks, Mary!
Maple-Apple Cake - adapted from recipe by Sharon Benning via Mary O’Brien Spurrier
。3 large eggs, room temperature
。2/3 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
。1/3 cup maple syrup
。1/4 cup maple sugar
。5-6 medium apples, chopped
。1 teaspoon vanilla extract
。1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
。1/2 cup white flour
。1 teaspoon baking soda
。2 teaspoons cinnamon
。1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 10″ round cake pan (or a 9″ x 13″ pan).
Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add oil, maple syrup, maple sugar, chopped apples and vanilla and stir to combine. Set aside. Into another mixing bowl, sift the measured flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan and put in pre-heated oven. Check cake after 45 minutes – cake is done if an inserted toothpick comes out clean and top is firm. If not done, bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan. Eat.
This cake stores well if kept well-wrapped. It also freezes well.