apple cake with crumb topping and mixed berry compote

apple cake with mixed berry compote

This recipe is a mash-up of  three recipes: Marie-Hélène’s apple cake, Martha Stewart’s crumb topping, and Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen’s Mixed Berry Compote. It is truly a Sunday morning treat, a mouthful of not-too-sweet hot apple with the crunch of cinnamon-sugar, the smooth caress of butter,  and the whole thing made cool with tart berries in sauce, a ruby-red eye-candy.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake with crumb topping
I thought this cake had a nice light apple flavor. However, it looked pale and wan and underdone after 60 minutes in the oven. I think my caramel apple cake recipe has a better texture. The advantage of this recipe is that it doesn’t require a mixer, just 3 mixing bowls, a whisk, and a silicone spatula. 

Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Apple Cake (adapted from Marie-Helene on Epicurious)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum (or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Martha Stewart’s Crumb Topping (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)

Crumb Topping
Mix all ingredients the except butter in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the sugar mixture with two knives until the butter is roughly the size of peas. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch spring form pan and set it aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Put apples in a large bowl of cold water so that they don’t discolor.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Here the advantage of using superfine sugar becomes apparent; it’s easier to incorporate because the crystals are finer than granulated sugar. Whisk in the rum and vanilla.

Cake Baker’s Note: I used 1 teaspoon vanilla because I didn’t have rum, then added 2 1/2 tablespoons water to the batter to keep the liquid measurements the same.

Whisk in half the flour until it is just incorporated, then add half the melted butter,mixing until it is just incorporate. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula so that it’s even, making sure the batter goes all the way to the sides.

Sprinkle the crumb topping on top. You might have left over crumb topping. Just refrigerate leftovers for future use on another apple cake, coffee cake, quick bread or muffins,

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 minutes.

Cake Baker’s Note: Test the cake after 50 minutes. If the tester comes out moist, let it bake another 10 minutes. It took 60 minutes with the topping.

Carefully run a thin blade around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. Check to be sure no apples are stuck to the sides. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature, about 1 hour. To remove the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan bottom, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Serving the cake
The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. I recommend a mixed berry compote in the recipe below.

Storing the cake
The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. Leave the cake on a plate and just press a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper against the cut surfaces. After two days, it must be refrigerated.

Mixed Berry Compote (adapted from Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen)

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup powdered sugar (or granulated sugar or honey)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Wash berries. Place in medium-sized saucepan. Add sugar and vanilla. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken sauce. Remove 1/3 to half of the compote ingredients and puree in blender about 5 seconds. Add back into compote. Heat through. Serve over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream. Makes 5-6 cups compote.