01 November 2010

Cranberry Apple Cake

You know how they say you should never go grocery shopping hungry? My mother is the perfect example of why. A week or so ago she went to the store hungry and apparently developed a craving for apples. This lead to what I can only imagine to be 50 pounds of apples in our fridge, ranging from Empire to Red Delicious, and everything in between.

When I saw this glut of apples I knew that I was probably going to have to use some for baking to prevent any from going to waste. After explaining to my brother that I wanted to use apples, my always helpful sibling responds with “you should make something with cranberries” completely ignoring my apple criteria. He back pedalled a bit and mentioned how well cranberries and apples go together. Ah, inspiration, there you are.

I found two recipes nearly identical and decided that I would meld and cut the recipes by half. However, there was one issue with both recipes. To me there are three necessary ingredients when baking with apples: 1) Brown Sugar 2) Cinnamon 3) Nutmeg. These must exist in some form, and I will always make the addition should some misguided person have omitted them.

Before I get to the result of my experiment, let me tell you that this cake is worth baking simply for the smell. It just smells like fall, and reminds you of what some would likely describe as harvest time (I assume, having never actually experienced it :)). The wonderful aroma that wafts through the house while this cake is baking is nothing short of amazing.

The flavour of the cake that smells this fantastic is exactly what you'd expect. It gives you that warm homey feeling, similar to what you get when eating warm apple pie . The apple flavour is subtle and the cranberries perfectly tart. The cinnamon and nutmeg make an appearance and serve only to heighten the flavours of the apple. The texture of the cake is best described as creamy, since there was almost no distinguishable crumb, almost like a flour-less cake. I blame my treatment of the sugar since I not only reduced it by half but replaced it with brown. This means less sugar to absorb moisture resulting in a stiffer batter. Couple that with all the shredded apple and the moisture content was probably near Atlantic proportions. If you can imagine a pumpkin pie filling that's quite stiff, or perhaps oatmeal that has had gelatin added to it making it stand you get the idea of the cake's texture. It might sound unappealing but it's not, as I said the texture manages to make the cake feel creamy, almost buttery.

I think next time I might stick with the white sugar. However, since the cake ended up being perfectly sweet (to me) I still believe a reduction is necessary, maybe to 2/3 cup. With no brown sugar though, I would be breaking my rules. Granted, another one of my rules is to never listen to my brother, and yet, here we are :).

~ Adam

Cranberry Apple Cake

Adapted from Cookie Baker Lynn and About.com

1 cup all-purpose flour (130g)
¾ tsp cinnamon, divided
¼ tsp nutmeg, divided
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed, divided (120g) - If using white sugar use 2/3 cup (134g)
¼ cup canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups grated apples (342g, approx 4 medium to large apples)
¾ cup cranberries, chopped (91g)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8” square pan.

In a small bowl whisk together flour half the cinnamon, half the nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl add oil and eggs and beat to combine. Add half the brown sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another large bowl add apples, cranberries and the remaining cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Toss the mixture together and allow to sit.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until well combined.

Fold in apples and cranberries, until completely combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven on centre rack for 25 – 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and cake springs back when touched (this took 25 minutes for me).

Allow to cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool on rack.

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