I wanted to make a seasonal, early spring cake - with fruit. Apples were the obvious choice. You can use them the same day you buy them, unlike pears, you don't have to wait days for them to ripen, or even longer to turn dark, like bananas.
They are always aromatic, even if they are imported, unlike the sour, tasteless strawberries from California, or the bland, watery blueberries from South America.
I have no shortage of apple cake recipes, even one cookbook solely dedicated to them, but this time I wanted something fancy, not just Grandmother's homey kuchen, but a real Konditor piece (Konditor is a German pastry chef.)
How beautiful can apples look in a cake?
Short Crust: 230 g/8 oz. all-purpose flour 70 g/2.5 oz. whole wheat pastry flour (or all AP flour) 75 g/2.7 oz sugar 200 g/7 oz. unsalted butter, cut in pieces 1 pinch salt 1/4 vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract) 1/4 lemon, zest 1 egg yolk
Filling: 1 - 1.25 kg/35 - 45 oz. baking apples (small ones look nicer) 100 g/3.5 oz. ladyfinger biscuits (good quality or homemade*) 100 g/3.5 oz. unsalted butter, melted, for brushing 40 g/1.4 oz. raisins, soaked in 1 tbsp. Calvados or apple schnapps
Sauce: 2 eggs 2 egg yolks 400 ml/13.5 fl. oz. whipping cream 40 g/1.4 oz. sugar 30 g/1 oz. corn starch 1/2 lemon, zest 20 g/0.7 oz. almond slices or chopped walnuts
Glaze: ca. 1/4 glass apricot jam, put through a strainer 10 g/0.35 oz. Calvados or apple schnapps
*) You can find an easy ladyfinger recipe in "The Joy of Baking" or here.
How to make:
For the short crust, make a ring of flour on the counter top. Place
sugar, butter, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and egg yolk in the middle.
Knead together by hands. (Or, alternatively, mix all other ingredients
in mixer until well blended, then transfer to flour ring and incorporate
by hand.) Pat dough into flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for
Preheat oven to 180ºC/355ºF. Peel, halve and core apples. With sharp knife, cut round side with parallel cuts, ca. 1/2 cm/0.6" deep.
Pat (or roll out) short crust to cover bottom and up sides of a 30 cm/12" springform pan. Cover crust bottom with ladyfingers. Place apple halves over
ladyfinger layer, and brush with hot butter. Sprinkle with soaked
raisins and nuts.
In a bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients until smooth. Ladle over apple layer.
Bake cake for ca. 50 minutes.
Remove cake from oven, and glaze with apricot glaze. Let cool on wire
rack. Cake has to be completely cooled before removing it from the pan.