Heavenly Thanksgiving Apple Cake
Being a Southerner, they had me at bourbon. I tend to be a DIY home chef, making things up as I go. It's a creative pastime of mine, having had both a grandmother and a mother who were excellent home cooks. I'm not actually a bourbon drinker, but I am nostalgic and do like to represent for my homies now and again. I've been adding bourbon and espresso to my grandmother's brownie recipe for years. When I heard about this apple cake which recommended cognac (not to be found in my cabinets) or a whiskey substitute, it set my creative cogs to working as the season for making merry is fast approaching.
This cake, adapted from an Athena Calderone recipe, is wonderfully moist. It makes an incredible breakfast cake or dessert served warm from the oven topped with (coconut vegan) whipped cream, ice cream, or a yogurt topping. It actually needs nothing, but could hold up to any addition. The recipe calls for buttermilk which I did not have, so I made my own, which is so easy and fun to do. I promise there are no pilgrim outfits or churning involved. Any kind of milk can be turned into buttermilk which makes the cake both light, moist, and richly complex.
I hope you will love this easy to prepare, sublime apple cake to which I have taken liberties and added a number of my own twists. It came out so divine that I am already riffing on new additions and plan to make it again soon, both as a standard and a perfect addition to a Thanksgiving celebration.
Happy Thanksgiving. May you be well. May you have peace and ease. May you be happy.
1 cup organic flour
3/4 tsp. cardamom (promise it's not too much)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large organic eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. bourbon (be generous in your pour)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk * (room temp)
3-4 med apples (a tart variety is my recommendation)
1 stick butter (melted and cooled, and a bit extra for pan)
1 cup raw pecan halves
1-2 Tbs. brown sugar for topping
a few pinches of fine salt for topping
a whisper of cinnamon for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10 inch baking pan or a ceramic baking dish. Wisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl beat the eggs til frothy. Add in the sugar a little at a time, then add the bourbon and the vanilla extract. Stir or shake the buttermilk well, then whisk into mixture. Peel, core and cut 2.5 apples into half inch cubes, reserving the remaining apple for topping the cake.
Add half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients mixing gently--don't over mix. Making a bit of a well in your batter add half of the cooled melted butter, then repeat the flour and butter steps one more time til completely combined.
Gently fold the cubed apples into the batter and do the same with the pecans keeping some whole and some of the halves, halved. This makes a nice balance and consistency in the cake. Pour the batter into your pan and top with remaining very finely sliced apples. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of apples. Hand sprinkle a good, fine salt over the top of the apples like fairy dust...just enough to bring out the flavor and sweetness of the apples topping the cake. Tap a whisper of cinnamon over the top of the apple slices to finish.
Bake until the cake turns a golden color and the apples on top brown and their edges slightly crisp and curl. Bake about 55 minutes or until a knife or toothpick test comes out clean in the center. Remove cake from oven and cool for 5 minutes if serving warm. If you choose, top with your favorite dairy or non dairy whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!
*buttermilk: Add 1 Tbs. lemon juice to 1 cup of any type of milk. Let sit 10 or more minutes. The longer it sits, the thicker it will get. Stir well before measuring out a third of a cup for the above cake recipe. Use remaining buttermilk for your favorite recipes such as adding to pancake or waffle batter.