I read cookbooks like novels, and one my favorites from this year is “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook” by Amy Treverso.
A senior food and home editor for Yankee magazine, Amy gives an in-depth guide to 59 apple varieties and a delicious collection of recipes. She also devotes one chapter to the work of John Bunker, Maine’s own Johnny Appleseed.
Amy was at the Common Ground Country Fair in September, demonstrating techniques of apple preparation, and cooking up recipes from her book. I really enjoyed her Simple Apple Cake and have made it dozens of times since then.
In my work with apples, I’ve learned that the many apple varieties are just like people: they each have their own flavors, textures and strengths. Some apples work well in baking, others great in sauce, cider varieties are best put into juice, and other apples are best simply eaten out of hand.
Amy divides apples into four categories, which correspond to their best use in the kitchen. Firm-sweet Maine apple varieties that work well with this cake include Baldwin, Black Oxford, Sweet Sixteen and Keepsake.
The recipe, known as a dump-and-bake, is very easy and straightforward. I’ve tinkered with it a bit, replacing the one cup of sugar with ½ cup maple syrup, the canola oil with butter, eliminating the nuts and adding bit of whole wheat flour. The result is still a wonderfully tender and moist cake.
The total time to prepare and bake the cake is just about 45 minutes … so it’s perfect to whip up as a coffee cake for breakfast, or as a last-minute dessert. Simple Apple Cake really needs no garnishing but it is delicious with a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt.
Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected]
Simple Apple Cake
Makes 9 servings
3 large, firm-sweet apples (Sweet 16 are nice), cored and cut into cubes
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup whole wheat or whole meal flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch round or square pan.
Core the apples and cut them into bite-sized cubes. In a medium bowl, stir the apples with the maple syrup and set aside for the sugars to mix.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, spices and baking soda. Stir in the apples and their juice. Then add the egg and the melted butter and stir to combine. Amy adds in her book, “at this point, the mixture will not look promising — as if there is not enough batter to coat the apples. Don’t worry — the recipe really does work.”
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cook for 20 minutes. (We can never wait this long.)
Nutritional analysis per serving: 200 calories, 3 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat, (0 grams trans fat), 132 mg. Sodium, 2.3 grams fiber.