FFWD – Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

It wasn’t a good summer for apples in the Fraser Valley, according to my mother. She told me that the day that I was there for my big gluten-y baking spree. She’d gone over to a friend’s place to pick up some apples that were in danger of rotting on the tree and she asked me to use those for my apple cake, to save what we could.

The apples you find on hobby farms like my parents’ place don’t necessarily look like the ones you buy in the store. They can have worm holes and scabby patches, but more than that, the varieties aren’t always identifiable. The apples I used for my first attempt at Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake looked sort of like Fujis, but tasted like Granny Smiths. Apples can hold a lot of surprises.

New York Magazine published a list of their favourite New York State apples, which barely scratches the surface of what’s available out there. Apples seem capable of infinite genetic variation and it can take cultivators many attempts to come up with a new, viable variety. Michael Pollan does a wonderful job of telling the apple’s story in his book The Botany of Desire. It’s a great read, with as much mystery and detail as an historical novel. Just the thing to inspire you to pick up some interesting varieties of apples.

But we were talking about an apple cake.

Odd-looking apples chopped, ages-old bottle of rum located, ingredients assembled, butter melted, eggs frothed. Putting this cake together happened so quickly! This is a great last-minute dessert recipe, since you’d generally have most or all the ingredients on hand.

I used a slightly larger springform pan than called for and probably the equivalent of five apples, which may account for the extra-lumpy texture of the cake, but did not take away from the flavour. It was moist, delicious and quickly gone.

I decided to make smaller apple cakes today, using gluten-free flour. I’d gotten some apples from my parents’ trees and was eager to finish them. I also thought the moistness of the recipe might help to mitigate some of crumbly dryness that sometimes plagues gluten-free baked goods.

The batter was very different from the wheat flour version, with a paste-like consistency, but everything came together just as quickly. Baked, the cakes have a spongier texture than the original, which is almost a pudding cake. They’re still very moist, though, with crisp edges. I’ll just have to see what my gluten-free taste tester thinks.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake


23 thoughts on “FFWD – Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

  1. Both versions look wonderful. The apples from hobby farms may have worm holes and not look like the ones you buy in the store, but, oh their taste is far superior.

  2. Wow, talk about fresh apples! They look fabulous. I think it’s great that you made a gluten-free version, esp. with that dryness issues in gluten-free cakes. How did your taste-tester like them?

  3. The apples look great! Nothing better than apples fresh from the orchard. I almost went the muffin tin route instead of the ramekins. So many wonderful options with this recipe. I hope that your gluten-free taste tester enjoyed them!!

  4. I think your apples and your cake are all the more special because your parents grew the apples. Your cake turned out beautifully – no matter about the size of the pan. And your pretty blue crockery sets it off to perfection.

  5. Thanks everyone! You’re all lovely. I am really enjoying looking at everyone’s creations and getting a window into everyone’s process and stories.

    @evilcakelady and Betty – I used an all-purpose gluten-free mix that my food co-op sells. It’s white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. I added some xantham gum and it seemed to work really well. No gritty or unusual aftertaste at all.

    My taste-tester (aka Kevin, my partner) actually liked them! He’s not a fan of baked goods in general (especially since he was diagnosed with celiac disease), so that’s a big win. Yay Dorie!

  6. I love The Botany of Desire! And thanks for that link to NY Mag. My CSA is sending Stayman Winesaps this week, which is the sort of thing I get excited about…
    For what it’s worth, those apples in the top picture are GORGEOUS–lovelier than anything you’ll find in a supermarket, for sure.

  7. Thanks, Lexi! Those apples were really good. I want to get a CSA share next year – everyone I know who has one raves about the produce they receive.

  8. I love how you added in extra apples–nice to know that you can go extra heavy with the apples. I used apples that I picked locally, and some were really small, so I figured 6 ounces per apples and weighed out 24 ounces.

    Also nice to hear what the difference between gluten and gluten-free versions.

    Great looking mini-cakes, too. What a fantastic idea!

  9. Thanks, pragmaticattic! It’s so cool to hear how many people used apples fresh off the tree.

    It was fun to do two different versions of this recipe. The mini-cakes are cute, but also practical for the gluten-free cake. Gluten-free items don’t keep as well as regular baked goods, so I just threw most of them in the freezer and we can take them out a little at a time. 🙂

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