Do certain songs or albums remind you of a particular season or time of year? For me, Ryan Adams “Love is Hell” always takes me back to one particularly cold January when I spent my evenings driving through neighborhoods in metro Detroit looking for “for rent” signs for a new apartment. To this day when I hear a song off of that album I swear I can see my breath in the air and snow piled up on the streets. The album that will always be fall to me is Carole King’s “Tapestry.” It reminds me of being in the kitchen with my mom, listening to Tapestry with a chill in the air and the distinct smell of apples baking. Last week I heard “I Feel the Earth Move” on the radio and I knew it was time to start some fall baking.
I’ve never made an apple cake before but I had clipped a recipe for one by the chef Marcus Samuelsson out of a magazine years ago and since I have an abundance of apples right now from a very prolific tree in my parents’ yard it felt like the right time to bust it out.
It’s a very simple recipe (which I love) and called for both chopped up apple to be mixed in with the batter and sliced apples to be placed on top of the cake decoratively. The other ingredients were: half a stick of butter, half & half, flour, white and brown sugar, cinnamon, an egg, and baking powder. All things I had readily on hand.
I did my best placing the apples in an attractive manner on top and since there was extra cinnamon and sugar juice from the apples I thought it might be a good idea to pour that on top of the sliced apples too. Can’t hurt, right?
The resulting cake is so moist and delicious and versatile enough to be served as dessert or even for breakfast that it will for sure be added to my regular rotation of favorite recipes. Happy Fall!
Marcus Samuelsson’s Apple Cake (slightly adapted)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 Granny Smith apples (I used 4 small Macs)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 large egg
- 1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring the pan
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
- 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and lightly flour.
Toss together the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Set aside.
Peel and core the apples, then slice one apple into 16 wedges. Combine the cinnamon and 1/3 cup of the sugar mixture in a medium bowl. Add the apple wedges and toss to coat. Roughly dice the remaining apple.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the remaining sugar mixture on medium speed until light, fluffy, and lemon colored, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the half-and-half, and mix until combined. Fold the diced apple into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange 14 of the apple wedges fanned along the outer edge of the pan and place the 2 remaining wedges in the center. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is golden brown.
Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a small offset spatula around the edges to release the cake from the pan and remove the springform. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, then cut into 12 wedges.