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Grandmother's Apple Cake

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Recipe from "A Passion for Desserts" by Emily Luchetti

Makes 8 servings

"Many baking novices feel that you can't become an accomplished baker unless you learned at your grandmother's knee. They assume that every pastry chef got started in childhood getting secret tips as Granny (or Nona, Gremmy, or Nana), with flour on her apron, patiently demonstrating how to roll a pie crust and then fill it with freshly picked apples from an orchard two feet from the back door. Granted, this is a good way to become a baker but it is not the only way. Let's face it--many of our grandmothers did not bake and this means we are on our own. While both of my grandmothers were wonderful women from whom I learned a great deal, their baking repetoires were limited (although my maternal grandmother made the absolute best chocolate frosting, which I still make to this day). Don't use not having a baking grandmother as an excuse--it is never too late to start. To learn how to bake, with or without a grandmother, read everything you can get your hands on and bake, bake, and then bake some more. This straightforward recipe, from my husband's Grandmother Sue, is great for beginners. Just follow the instructions, take your time, and have fun"......Emily Luchetti

5 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-pupose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (4 tablespoons/1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 medium Golden Delicious apples (about 1 pound. 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Chantilly Cream (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Coat the bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with cooking oil spray. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the bottom of the pan.

Sift together the flour, salt and bakig powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla.

In another bowl, mix together the butter and the 1/4 cup of sugar until light; one minute with a stand mixer or two minutes with a handheld mixer. By hand, stir in one-third of the flour mixture and then one-third of the milk mixture just until mixed. Add the remaining flour and milk in 2 additions.

Spread the batter in the skillet. It will be thick and a little sticky. If difficult to spread, wet the back of a spoon or ends of your fingers to push the batter out to the edges.

Peel and core the apples. Cut them in slices 1/8 inch thick. Starting from the outer edge of the cake, arrange the apples in concentric circles, slightly overlapping over the top of the batter, completely covering it. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle it over the apples.

Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges and bottom of the cake, from the pan using a large metal spatula. Place a large plate on the top of the cake. Invert the pan and plate together, then remove the pan. Place another plate on top of the cake and invert again so it is right-side up.

Serve with Chantilly Cream (see recipe below).

Makes 8 servings.

Planning Ahead: This cake is best warm out of the oven. It can be made a day in advance; wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Reheat in a preheated 350 degree F (180 C) oven for 10 minutes.

Chantilly Cream

Chantilly (pronounced "shahn-tee-yee" in France, "shan-ti-ly" in America) is French for "sweetened whipped cream." It has become a part of the American dessert menu vocabulary, as it is more poetice sounding. Some chefs use confectioners' sugar in their whipped cream, but I prefer granulated sugar, superfine if possible. Granulated sugar offers a cleaner taste. Do not add too much sugar or it will make the dessert you are serving it with taste too sweet. For flavoring you can add vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, or vanilla powder. The appearance of Chantilly Cream should be smooth and satiny. If it is grainy looking, it has been overwhipped. Overwhipped cream, even by just a little bit, tastes dry and doesn't feel as creamy in the mouth. If you do overwhip cream, all is not lost; fold in a couple tablespoons of unwhipped cream and it will bring it back to the proper consistency. This won't work, however, if you have overwhipped it to the point where it has completely separated and looks like butter. If you don't have a whisk, you can whip cream by putting it in a jar and shaking it. Don't fill the jar more than half full, as heavy cream doubles in volume when whipped.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder


Whisk the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until soft peaks form. The cream should hold it's shape but still be satiny in appearance. It should never be grainy.

Planning Ahead: Chantilly Cream can be refrigerated for several hours. It will lose a little of its thickness as it sits. The water separates and sinks to the bottom. The amount this happens depends on the variety of cream you are using. Before serving, lightly whisk it to bring it back to its original consistency. Always keep Chantilly Cream covered with plastic wrap. Cream absorbs other flavors easily.

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