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