The arrival of autumn comes hand in hand with the comforting aroma of cinnamon in my kitchen. Handfuls of freshly-picked apples are constantly baking in some form in my oven. My apples have taken many forms this season: apple pies, apple crisps, apple sauce, failed-apple-crumble-turned-discovery-of-gigantic-apple-cookie, and, my absolute favorite, apple cake. Other than it’s perfectly balanced taste, something else makes this cake my favorite: it’s simple. Now, I’m not a shortcut kind of girl. You’ll never see me with a cake (or heaven forbid muffin) mix in hand. Not that I’m a food snob, I just truly enjoy the satisfaction of making something entirely from scratch. That being said, I do enjoy a recipe that allows me to whip up something fabulous in a snap, then leaves me with very little to clean afterward. The toughest job here? Peeling the apples. Plus, I usually coax someone else into doing that part anyhow.
Two-Bowl Apple Cake
adapted from Second Helpings, Please! By Norene Gilletz.
what you’ll need
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
• 5 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
• a few tbsp cinnamon
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• dash lemon juice
• dash vanilla
how to do it (long version with all the details)
First, peel your apples. Slice them thinly, so that you have half-moon shapes. Now, halve your half-moons. See the photo above for what your apples should look like. Don’t worry about making them perfect, you won’t see them once they’re in the cake! Coat them immediately with lemon juice (orange or apple juice works just as well, but the acidity in the lemon keeps them from browning!), brown sugar and cinnamon. I’ll leave the amount of cinnamon that you use up to you. I just throw a few dashes in, about 3 tbsp. You can put more or less, depending on your taste. Now, wet your hands. Mix it all together, turning the apples well into the sugary cinnamon mixture. Make sure they’re all coated. Sometimes, I’ll add a dash of vanilla here, or, if I’m feeling nutty, a dash of amaretto. Now, put the mixture aside. (Put the bottle of amaretto aside too.)
In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar and another dash of vanilla. Beat with a fork just until blended. Pour the oil in. (Now, this part might be tricky if you haven’t blended oil much before – using your fork, beat the oil, like you’d beat an egg, spinning around the bowl. Start from the outer edges, and work your way into the middle. Beat vigorously, as you want to make sure that the oil doesn’t separate from the rest.) Once this is all done, add your flour and baking powder. Yes, into the same bowl. Mix it all together, again, folding the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Once it’s blended, you’ve got your batter ready. Told you it was easy.
Now, time for the apples and batter to mate and make a beautiful cake baby. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of a 9×9” cake pan. I lined mine with parchment paper, but if you don’t have any on hand, grease the pan with spray or a very light coating of oil. Spread the apples over the top of this. Now, spread the rest of the batter on top. A tip – wet your hands and spread it by hand. Wet hands won’t stick to the batter, and it should spread perfectly. Don’t worry if an apple or two are peeking out. Your baby is ready for the oven.
Bake it for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden and your entire kitchen smells like heaven.