Fuck Fuji apples. While we’re being honest, fuck Gala apples too, and Braeburn. Bashing Red Delicious is not even fun anymore. They’re like the Comic Sans of apples. But fuck Jonagold, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp too. And Golden Delicious!! Fuck Golden Delicious.
All of the apples I just listed are not apples to me. They are some other too-sweet, poorly-textured fruit.
Give me MacIntosh, Jonamac, Cortland, Empire, or give me a fucking pear. I will also accept Winesap and Macoun on occasion.
Now that we know how I feel about apples, we can talk about apple desserts. No, we can’t even. I feel too strongly about them.
Apple cakes are a thing for me. So much so that, faced with my newest book club meeting assignment to “bake your personality as a food item,” I baked an apple cake. My reasoning: it’s not terribly fussy, it’s kinda tart, not the best looking dessert of all time, not the most put-together dessert of all time, not the sexiest dessert of all time, not a high-heels wearing, career-driven dessert….ok, I’ve gone off track, haven’t I? The point is. It’s just an apple cake. It’s like…not anything else. It tries hard to be an apple cake and mostly it succeeds, even if sometimes its therapist gives it quizzical looks.
True to form, while creating this cake, I made a big ol mess and screwed up a bunch. For one, I didn’t check if I had milk before embarking on this adventure (i didn’t). Luckily(?) I had some cream that was like waay past its due date and so the cream had essentially turned into butter, leaving some milky liquid on top of it. You’re reading this saying to yourself, please tell me she didn’t use the expired-cream-milky-top-liquid in this recipe. Please tell me she didn’t do that. You’re especially saying that if you’re one of the people who ate this cake. Wellllll. Listen, kids. I smelled it. I drank some. It tasted like milk. It was fine. Plus everyone knows soured milk makes the best panckes, so what harm could it do? I mixed it with some sour cream and threw it in, and I’m pretty sure it worked just fine, because the cake was god damned delicious. So let’s put away our Judgment faces and take out our Happy To Eat Cake faces, hmmmm?
Also I forgot to peel the wax paper off the bottom before serving, so everyone had to kind of pick it off themselves. ALSO I added the eggs before the other half of the sugar. But you know, no real harm done. It still came out an apple cake, because it’s a pretty flexible recipe. In CHARACTER, that is. Get your minds out of the gutter, readers! Because it has been a while since that apple has been cored IF YOU KNOW WHAT I AM SAYING HERE. And I think you do.
I know. I know, that is so wrong, I’m sorry mom.
Balzano Apple Cake
adapted from The New York Times
1 stick butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 Fuji apples (NOT. I used macs and other randos from the farmer’s mkt)
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt such as fleur de sel (or 1/2 tsp. kosher salt)
½ cup milk at room temperature
1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease a nine-inch-circle pan with butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and place inside pan. Grease sides of pan and parchment round with butter.
2. Melt butter in small saucepan. Set aside. Beat together eggs and half of sugar in a bowl. Continue to beat while slowly adding remaining sugar until thick — it should form a ribbon when dropped from spoon.
3. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds into the egg-sugar mixture and add pod to melted butter.
4. Peel apples and cut straight down around the core into four big chunks. Discard the core then slice the apple pieces thinly.
5. Remove vanilla pod from butter and discard. Stir butter into sugar-egg mixture. Combine flour, salt and baking powder, then stir into batter alternating with the milk. Stir in apples, coating every piece with batter. Pour batter into pan.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, until cake pulls away from pan and is brown on top. Cool for at least 30 minutes, then cut into wedges sprinkling each with powdered sugar if desired.