Beranbaum’s Apple Cake with Crumble Topping.
What are the elements of a good apple cake? Simplicity? Apple-ness? Do you prefer a crumbly topping? Nuts? Chunky apples? More apple or more cake?
I love apples in my desserts.
I love apple cake but have been searching high and low for a decent recipe that appeals to all the members of my family. I have a 4 and a 7 year old with discriminating taste buds and an aversion to nuts. My 4 year old is allergic to nuts and my 7 year old, though she hasn’t been tested yet, may be but she simply doesn’t like the idea of eating nuts. So I have adapted one of the recipes to exclude them.
IN THE FIRST CORNER WE HAVE DORIE GREENSPAN’S APPLE CAKE MARIE-HELENE…
A one-bowl batter and a simple list of ingredients makes this recipe enticing.
You must use a thin spatula to carefully loosen the sides so that you don’t have the chunky apples stuck to the pan. I like using a thin plastic spatula to save my nonstick finish.
The cake had a distinct rum flavour that my 4 year old didn’t like. My 7 year old loved this cake and its chunky apples. I loved the crunchy golden brown parts of the cake and the recipe is so simple to put together and bake. I may have to add more vanilla and omit the rum next time to see how my 4 year old likes it next time. The beauty of this cake is that you should use a variety of apples and it is not fussy at all.
When I was pouring the batter into the springform pan, I was thinking to myself that there was barely enough cake batter to coat the apples. However, I knew that it would puff up nicely and it did. Apple and cake were in perfect proportion. I liked the crunchy exterior of the cake but wasn't crazy about the crumb inside. Loved the apple chunks...and there were plenty of them!
AND IN THE OTHER CORNER WE HAVE: ROSE LEVY BERANBAUM’S APPLE CRUMBLE CAKE!
The crowd roars…the crumble topping and the thinly sliced Granny Smith apple sandwiched in the batter proffers up a meltingly tender center and elegant cross-section.
Also baked in a springform pan, Beranbaum’s Apple Cake requires cake strips to ensure the sides do not overbake. I found the strips worked. I had to resoak them when I brought the cake out to add the crumble topping though. The bottom of the cake was a tad more brown than I would have liked, but the cake in the centre was not overbaked.
This Apple Cake is made with sour cream and I loved it warm out of the oven. It would have been superb with a scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream served with it.
My 4 year old did not like the crumble topping and ripped it all off and ate just the centre of the cake. She wasn’t fond of the brown bottom either. I’ll have to figure out how to insulate the bottom next time…perhaps a sheet pan underneath? Instructions indicate baking in lower third of oven. I wonder if it wouldn't do better near the centre of the oven.
I actually liked the crumble topping and my 7 year old didn’t mind it. She liked both cakes but said they were different. Yes. They are both good and they appeal to different tastes. I’d say this Beranbaum one is more finicky for sure with the multiple steps and the crumble topping, but it does have more wow factor and is more delicate.
I would have to say that the Beranbaum one has the slight edge because of the texture of the cake. It’s way tender because of the special mixing technique and holds promise for some adaptations. I may have to try it without the crumble just to see if Bib will like it better. The Greenspan cake sure is a winner for efficiency and minimal effort involved though. If I had a huge basket of apples, I’d surely make the Greenspan one. It rocks for utilization of a massive number of apples. The Beranbaum one only contains one Granny Smith. I thought that kind of strange but I guess if you were down to one apple in the pantry, you could get away with making a very lovely apple cake.
SMACKDOWN RESULTS IMHO:
- Greenspan’s Apple Cake Recipe: 5/6
- Beranbaum’s Apple Cake Recipe: 5.5/6
Here are the recipes I used. I adapted the Beranbaum recipe by omitting nuts for my allergenic family, but I followed everything else exactly.
MARIE-HELENE’S APPLE CAKE
from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
- 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. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a 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 teh apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix 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 50-60 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.
from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Cinnamon Crumb Topping
- 1 cup/3.5 oz/100 grams Walnut halves
- 1/3 cup, firmly packed/2.5 oz/72 grams Light brown sugar, pref Muscovado
- 2 tablespoons/1 oz/25 grams Granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon/ 2.2 oz/65 grams Bleached all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons/2 oz/57 grams Unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 small tart apple such as Rhode Island Greening or Granny Smith
- 2 teaspoons Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup, divided/5.6 oz/160 grams Sour Cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla
- 1 3/4 cup/7 oz/200 grams Bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup/7 oz/200 grams Superfine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 12 tablespoons/6 oz/170 grams Unsalted butter (65 degrees to 75 degrees F/19 degrees to 23 degrees C)
Preheat the oven. Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C.
Prepare the Apple slices: Just before mixing the batter, peel, core, and slice the apple 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside.
Mix the Liquid Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 3 tablespoons of the sour cream, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.
Make the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Using a silicone spatula, scrape about two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small offset spatula. Using your fingers, sprinkle lightly with the reserved 1/2 cup crumb topping (do not press into the batter) and top with two rows of overlapping apple slices. Drop the remaining batter in large blobs over the apples and spread it evenly.
Bake the cake: for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, use your fingertips to pinch together the refrigerated crumb topping, breaking up the larger pieces so that about one-third of the mixture is formed into 1/4 inch balls or clumps and the rest is in small particles. Let them fall onto a large piece of parchment and add the rest of the lightly pinched crumbs.
Remove the pan from the oven and gently place on a wire rack. Using the parchment as a funnel, quickly and evenly strew the surface with the crumb topping. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The crumb topping could make it a little difficult to test for doneness, so using an instant read thermometer offer added insurance. An instant-read thermometer will register about 208 degrees F/98 degrees/C.
Cool and unmold the cake: Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and remove the sides of the springform. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. If desired, transfer the cake to a serving plate.