- 4 tiny-to-small appleshalved,peeled and cored
- 2 tbsp. lemon juices
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 grams) unsalted butterat room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey (any variety you like to eat)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 large eggsseparated
- 2 good pinches of salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- honey 1/4 cup
- A good pinch of sea salt
Small apples are peeled, halved, cored and then scored and arranged rump-up on a buttery cake base and in the oven, the cake begins to creep up around them and the apples fan out like accordions and the whole thing is so golden, dimpled and lovely that I abandoned all hopes, plans to do anything else until I could make this happen.
My changes to this recipe were to drop the flour a bit because my first cake was quite dry and stiff, to reduce the cookign time quite a bit, replace just under half the sugar with honey and to brush the cooled cake with a salted honey glaze. This glaze, once the cake is cooled, will stay glossy atop the cake for about an hour, but after that will sink in. No harm, of course, but if you’d like above all else a glossy cake, you’ll want to brush the honey on closer to the time you serve it. The cake is just mildly sweet, thank goodness, so the honey glaze does not overwhelm it. As I mentioned earlier, I did not put any cinnamon or pie spices in this, but I don’t think it would be terrible with shake or two of it for fragrance, although it is not traditional. (I think of cinnamon-doused cakes as much more of an American taste.) Finally, like a lot of cakes with large chunks of fruit baked into them, this cake is even better on the second day, and almost sticky-moist on the third — it totally understands when you have a busy week and need to get a head start on your holiday baking.
Heat oven: To 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform with butter or a nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
Place peeled, halved and cored apples cut-side-down on a cutting board. Use a knife to create parallel thin slices, but only cut halfway through each apple so that the apples stay intact. Don’t fret if you cut through, however; you can just reassemble the halves on the cake in a few minutes.
Prepare the base of the cake:
Beat butter and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar together in a bowl with electric beaters until fluffy. Add honey and beat until combined. Add vanilla and egg yolks, beating until just combined. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over cake batter, and mix for just 5 seconds, until they disappear. Add flour, half at a time, mixing only until just combined.
In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/4 of them into the cake batter, to lighten it a little. Fold in the rest in three additions. It will seem impossible to fold in at first because the batter is so stiff, but it will loosen with careful folding. Only fold the last addition of egg whites until it has mostly disappeared (a couple faint streaks of egg white are fine).
Spread cake batter in prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Arrange apple halves facedown over the cake batter. To warn, 4 tiny/small apples will definitely fit over the cake batter. When I made it with 4 small-almost-medium apples, I could only fit 3 1/2 of them. No need to press the apples into the batter. You can pour any extra lemon juice and sugar in the bowl over the apples.
35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then cut around the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan at all, and unhinge the sides. Let cake cool completely. You can store it at room temperature at this point, or after you add the honey, for up to 5 days 3 days at room temperature. After that, a fridge is best for longevity. The cake is lovelier on day 2 than day 1.
Before serving, if you’d like the glaze to look glossy, or whenever the cake is cool, if you don’t mind if the honey sinks into the cake: Warm 1/4 cup honey and a good pinch of sea salt until it liquefies to the point where it makes a thin glaze — this will take less than 30 seconds. Brush honey-salt mixture over cooled cake.