apple cake

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When I saw this beautiful apple walnut cake, with those perfectly arranged apple slices on top, I wanted to make it as soon as possible. I bought the walnuts and apples, I printed out the recipe, and then I…I made a different cake.

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I just couldn’t get past the step that required slicing apples fussily thin and fussily arranging the slices in the pan. I want to be the type of person who spends the time to precisely arrange fruit for the prettiest possible dessert, but I am just not.

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But I have no regrets. The cake I made instead is more rustic than the one that had initially caught my eye, but no less delicious for it. In this case, instead of paper thin apples painstakingly arranged in a pretty pattern, the apples are unceremoniously spread in two layers, one in the middle of the cake and one on top. You still have to peel and core the apples, but the coarse cut takes a fraction of the time as getting out the mandoline to make even slices.

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In its own tall, straight-sided way, this cake is just as impressive as the other. It’s also rich and moist and just sweet enough, filled with baked apples that taste just like fall. I still want to try the apple walnut cake, but it’s going to require magical amounts of free time and patience, especially now that I have an easier recipe in my back pocket.

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One year ago: Notes on planning a Thanksgiving feast
Two years ago: Cranberry Shortbread Cake
Three years ago: Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Four years ago: Breakfast Tacos

Printer Friendly Recipe
Apple Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 pounds apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored, chopped into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2¾ cups (13.2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a tube pan, preferably with removable sides, with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the apples, cinnamon, and 5 tablespoons sugar.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the oil, butter, orange juice, sugar, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the oil mixture and stir to incorporate.

4. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples, then arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

5. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack. After 15 minutes, remove the cake from the pan. Cool at least an hour before serving. The cake will keep, covered tightly, for up to 2 days.

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  1. Cheers to rustic desserts! This reminds me of one of my favorite fall recipes–apple bread–but turned dessert! Long live autumn. Forget the picture-perfect slices–it’s beautiful as is, if you ask me. Plus, you deserve credit for at least peeling the apples first 🙂

  2. i tend to go for rustic versus fancy most of the time too! when they taste just as good, does it really matter? this cake still looks awesome!

  3. I love how this turned out and I bet it came together faster than the original!

  4. Lucy and Cinco would love those apple peels

  5. Looks great!
    Why peel the apples?

  6. bridget says:

    ET – You don’t have to, but I find the peels distracting after baking. The apples meld with the batter better when they’re peeled.

  7. I want to eat that big pile of peels! Whenever I make something using peeled apples, I can’t help myself…

  8. I love this cake! I made it about a year ago, when I had too many apples to handle. It was great. And while the other one looks amazing, I don’t have that kind of patience, either.

  9. what kind of apples did you use? I normally go with granny smith when I do a pie, but I see some red peels there…

  10. bridget says:

    matt – I actually don’t know what I used. I bought a bag of mixed seconds (the slightly less perfect apples) from the farmer’s market, and I didn’t even ask what they were. There were definitely some Golden Delicious in there; nothing green, so no Granny Smith.

  11. Kristine says:

    Do you think substituting something like buttermilk for the orange juice would be OK?