I very rarely return to a recipe within a few weeks, even if I love the recipe. Those food bloggers who make a recipe to the letter the first time, and then return right a way to adapt it and perfect it before posting it are a different breed of cooks. I am a food diarist. What you see is what you get and if I adapt a recipe, I usually adapt it right out of the gate because I've read the recipe through and thought about it's ingredients or the cooking instructions, or the constraints of my pantry or the likes and dislikes of our house full of hungry folk, or, or, or ...
That being said, I want you to meet this Maple Apple Cake. This cake (above) started out as Rum Apple Cake, a recipe straight from The FOOD 52 Cookbook.
I made this cake (below) on Saturday to take to the neighbor's winter fireworks party and fest. It was delicious, but the batter swallowed the beautiful apple slices that I'd placed atop (as per instructions) before baking, so I had to place some dehydrated apple slices (that I made earlier in apple season) atop to achieve the finished effect. The cake itself was sticky with the sugar and almond flour and was difficult to slice and plate neatly. And the maple flavour was decidedly understated. It was delicious, but it could be better all the way around. To boot, it was gone within an hour or so, so I never got more than a nibble from SB's plate before it was gone. That nibble and SB's experienced 'sweet tooth analysis' got me thinking.
So today, I had another go at the recipe and I changed it up quite a bit. I decreased the amount of almond flour and replaced the balance of the recipe's flour measurement with some gluten free flour. Bob's Red Mill mix is my GF flour of choice. I added a full teaspoon and a half of maple extract to really bump up the maple flavour and kept the spiced rum measure the same. I used light brown sugar instead of maple sugar and I used three small Empire apples instead of Granny Smiths. Granny Smiths are really tart. I like a sweeter apple. I also baked the cake for almost forty-five minutes before I placed the apple slices atop in their pretty swirl. So this (below) is the cake that came from the oven this time.
SB and I have agreed that the adaptations to the recipe make for a better cake. The crumb is better because the flour absorbs and works with the almonds to make a cakier effect and less of a sticky torte effect. There is a decided maple flavour that works really well with the little apple chunks that are mixed throughout the cake batter. The apples slices atop are more defined and add a 'soft bite' as they are tender crisp from the delayed addition to the cake. This cake can stand alone, but man, is it ever good with that dollop of whipped cream.
It's always nice to have a GF dessert cake that is not chocolate-based. This recipe is a keeper. If you have friends who need gluten-free offerings, this cake is a tasty surprise gift for them!
Maple Apple Cake
adapted from FOOD 52's Rum Apple Cake
Oven 300° F – 60 to 75 minutes bake time
3 small Empire apples, peeled and cored
Juice of half a lemon
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
¾ c. light brown sugar, divided
1 ½ tsp maple extract
3 eggs, separated
1 c. almond flour
⅓ c. all purpose gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. spiced rum ( or dark rum)
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting the cake
Sweetened whipped cream for serving
Making the Cake:
- Grease the sides and bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper too. Set aside.
- Peel and core the apples. Chop two of the apples into small ¼ inch chunks. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle on some lemon juice and 1 tbsp. of the brown sugar measure. Set aside. Slice the third apple into ten or so thin wedges, place them in another small bowl, toss with some of the lemon juice and set them aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 300° F and place the rack in the middle position.
- Place the butter and the rest of the brown sugar measure in a mixing bowl and whip until light and fluffy.
- Add the maple extract and the egg yolks and beat until smooth and golden brown.
- Mix the almond flour, GF flour, and baking powder in a measuring cup and add to the butter mixture. Mix just to incorporate. Don’t over mix.
- In a clean cold bowl, whip the egg whites to a stiff meringue.
- Add half the meringue to the batter and fold it in until incorporated. Drain the juices/lemon juice from the bowls of apples into the batter, add the rum, and mix lightly.
- Add the second half of the meringue and fold gently into the batter.
- Very gently stir in the apple chunks and turn the batter into the prepared pan.
- Smooth the surface and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until the entire top surface of the cake has ‘set up’.
- At around the 45 minute mark, pull the rack out and gently place the apple wedges in a swirl around the top surface of the cake. Sprinkle some sugar atop each slice and return the cake to the ooven to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- The cake is done when a cake tester comes clean when the cake is poked in the center.
- Run a pastry knife around the outer edges of the cake and let it cool completely in the pan.
- Release the spring form clamp, slide the cake out of the form, and use the parchment paper base to slide the cake to a pretty plate.
- Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve wedges of cake with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
Note: For this cake, it’s important to have all the ingredients prepped and in their bowls, as the batter must be constructed quickly. The air in the whipped batter and whipped meringue is what keeps this cake lighter than a ‘torte’ … you must handle the batter gently and get the cake into the oven quickly once the meringue and apples have been added to the batter. Not hard to do, just requires careful prep.