Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
I made this wonderful dessert, which Dorie Greenspan describes as "more apple than cake," soon after her 2010 cookbook, Around My French Table, was published. The cake was the creation of Dorie's friend Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhoste, who didn't quite know how she made it (she did it by feel). Dorie developed the recipe.
I loved it so much I wrote about it on Eats, The Dallas Morning News' erstwhile food blog. Five years later, at a New Year's Day party friends were throwing, I tasted a slice of apple cake a friend had brought, and recognized it right away. More apple than cake. Terrific, vibrant apply flavor. Not overly sweet. Marvelous crisp-soft edges. I asked Alicia, my friend who had brought it, what the recipe was, and she told me she had found it in a food magazine some years before. "What kind of apples did you use?" I asked. "Different kinds," she said. Just as I suspected. On my phone, I found the blog post I'd written five years earlier, where I'd reproduced the recipe. "Is this it?" I asked. It was! It was Marie-Hélène's apple cake.
Makes 8 servings
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 sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Center a rack in the oven and heat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
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. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and, when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it's evenish.
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 knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it's fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, 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.