If you've ever had an apple cake, you'll probably agree that it just might be the second-most comforting, soul-satisfying cake out there. (Obviously chocolate cake takes first place, right?)
It works with tea or coffee, brunch or dessert, and can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. Apple cake stands alone; it requires nothing save perhaps a dusting of powdered sugar to spiffy it up, and doesn't rely on filling and frosting to meet its full potential.
Back in March when I was recovering at home from the birth of my second son, Mateo, my good friend and neighbor, Linda, brought over a box of home cooked food. There were at least three meals worth of hot dinners, warm artichoke dip with pita, a salad and her famous apple cake.
After the hospital food (which I barely survived), her cake tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten. I'll never forget standing in my kitchen with Danny, eating it from the pan and just looking at each other saying, "Everything is going to be OK now. We have this cake."
We could have brought home triplets, and I would have felt equipped.
There's a lot to be said for the benefits of good, home cooked food when you are emotionally and physically low on reserves. Remember that the next time a friend has a baby or an operation or something. Sure flowers or another baby blanket is a nice gesture, but how about a crock pot of Beef Bourguignon...and an apple cake.
I called Linda up a few months later and requested the recipe. She laughed and said it was a 'very popular' recipe and got a lot of reactions. I understood why.
OK, so of course I changed a few things, but not much.
My raspberry bush was still yielding fruit when I made this cake, so I tossed in a few handfuls between the layers of batter along with the apples. The recipe originally called for a dusting of cinnamon at this point, but I reached for my microplane and grated Tonka bean over the fruit. You should always use a light hand when working with Tonka bean as ingesting too much of it can be a health hazard.
Tonka-Bean Spiced Apple-Raspberry Cake
(don't sweat it if you don't have tonka bean, just use a teaspoon of cinnamon instead)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup oil
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 tonka bean, grated superfine
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8 inch round cake tin and line with parchment. Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in oil and almond extract. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Fold into egg mixture. Spread half of cake batter in tin. Cover with sliced apples and raspberries and sprinkle with tonka bean. Cover apples with the rest of the batter and bake for about 45 minutes.
This is my entry for October's Sugar High Friday event hosted by Anita over at Dessert First. Anita chose spices as her theme for this event and I originally didn't have anything to submit, but when I took my first bit of this cake and the tonka bean quietly, yet masterfully, stole the show away from the fruit, I knew I had nailed it!
And my love affair with the tonka bean continues...
Check out Anita's blog on October 31 for the entire SHF roundup.