Friday, October 29, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie - marie-helene's apple cake

This week, our cooking assignment from Dorie's around my french table was marie-helene's apple cake.  I was quite excited to try this recipe.  As a child, my grandma would ask me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday.  I would always request her to-die-for Dutch Apple Cake.  Her cake had a crusty top, much like a muffin, and then moist, tender cake with bits of apple throughout.  The cake was a deep golden brown and pure heaven!  For some reason, as an adult, I've never made the cake for myself.  I guess it's the kind of cake that someone needs to make for you.  I've included my grandma's recipe at the end of this post.  I love reading her recipes.  They're written in her writing and in her style...short, sweet and to the point.  Luckily, I grew up cooking with her, so I know how to read her recipes.

My grandma died 12 years ago, when I was on bed rest, pregnant with Ethan.  I didn't get to say goodbye to her, or go to her funeral, or help my sisters and my mom in my grandmother's last weeks (she was on hospice, choosing to die at home, rather than in a hospital).  I've always had regrets about this, wished that I'd been able to help.  However, the positive of this is I remember my grandma as she was before she got sick.  Grandma was a tiny woman (4'11" with her heels), quick to smile and incredibly loving with her grandkids.  Throughout the rough times in my childhood, grandma was often there to rescue me...if only for a Friday night sleep over where we would play cards and eat vanilla ice cream with strawberries on top.

Anyway, when I saw Dorie's apple cake recipe, I was excited to make it and see how it compared to my grandma's.  Dorie's recipe is a bit different from grandma's (it doesn't include 1 1/2 cups of oil...holy toledo, what was grandma thinking?), but it's also quite similar too.

Most of the needed ingredients, on my adorable tea towel from Paris.

When I started making the cake, I thought I was out of butter and then discovered my PLUGRA!  Thank goodness.
I love using my apple slicer/corer to cut my apples before I peel them. 

Lots of apples!

The batter was beautiful and had a lovely flavor (yes, I sampled it!)

I only have a 9" springform pan, not an 8"...this recipe definitely needed an 8".

Dishes, dishes, dishes!!

Straight from the oven.  My top didn't quite look like Dorie's.  I think using the 9" pan caused the cake batter to spread out too much, so my cake wasn't quite as tall and there wasn't enough batter to cover all the apples.

It still looks pretty darn yummy!

Out of the springform, it's a fairly short cake.

I only had white rum, rather than dark rum, I wonder if that made a difference in the color of the cake?

My apples seem to be more at the top and not as evenly distributed as the ones in Dorie's photo.

I served the cake with my homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream.

The cake was a hit with everyone (as was the homemade ice cream).  It's a perfect fall cake.  Simple to make, light and delicious to make.  I'd say we've got a winner here!  (Next time I will definitely use an 8" pan and try it with dark rum.)  It's not quite the same as grandma's cake, but then it also doesn't have a cup and a half of oil!

Grandma Spencer's Dutch Apple Cake
(exactly as it's hand written on her recipe card)

1 1/2 c oil
2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t soda
3 C flour
1 t salt
3 C diced apples
1 C chopped walnuts
1 t vanilla

Mix oil, sugar + eggs.  Sift flour, sift together w/soda & salt.
Blend w/oil mix, blend in apples + nuts, vanilla.
Bake in tube or loaf pan @ 350 for 1 hr 15 mins.

If you try it, invite me over for a piece, please!

For even more apple cakes go to French Fridays with Dorie.


rebecca said...

You're right-- how funny about the similarities!

It looks delicious, by the way. I'd love to try your grandma's recipe sometime too...

Sis. Boom. said...

My favorite posts on FFWD are the ones where the recipes bring out memories and fantasies... just as they are for me. I loved your post!
Trevor Sis. Boom.

Tia said...

an apple corer and plugra butter - i want! :)

Vicki Bensinger said...

I think the cake looks great. Even if it was thinner by using the 9" it makes it more satisfying than stuffing yourself with a large piece. If the finished product was a hit, it doesn't matter in my opinion if it was too thick or thin.

Sorry about your grandmother. I miss mine too!

Kathy said...

Your cake does look great and I'm sure it was delicious. I loved reading about your grandma. Enjoy your good memories!

Steph said...

Rebecca...thanks. you should try the recipe, it's really yummy.
Trevor Sis. Boom...thanks!
Tia you can borrow the apple corer whenever you like...but I'm not so generous with my Plugra!
Vicki, I agree, I enjoyed the smaller pieces.
Kathy...thanks...grandma would get such a kick that I'm sharing stories about her on the internet!

Ann (napangel) said...

I love that cloth underneath your ingredient display. Your photos are wonderful!

Katrina said...

What a sweet memory of your Grandma.
The ice cream looks amazing!

yummychunklet said...

What nice thoughts about your grandmother. I'm excited to try her apple cake recipe! Thank you for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

Your apple corer looks fantastic - my least favourite job.

Thanks for sharing your stories of your grandmother.

Cher said...

I used light rum too (it was all I had in the house) and was wondering if a different would darken things up as well. (and probably add some depth to the flavor)

Nice story as well.

Steph said...

Ann...thanks my sis bought it for me when we were in France this's the perfect reminder of our trip!
Katrina...thanks...I use David Lebovitz's recipe and it is super delicious@
Yummy...I hope you's a very yummy cake.
Onewetfoot...Mine too! Love the corer!
Cher...thanks...yes I think I need to try the dark next rum was actually coconut flavored...but that didn't come through in the cake (probably a good thing.)

moowiesqrd said...

Cheers to your grandma's memory! The cake looks fabulous... it seems Marie-Helene was the type for rustically gorgeous food.

marcella said...

Your cake looks very pretty - the color looks great to me, nice and golden. It's surprising to me how much flatter the cakes turned out in a 9" pan. But really, I cannot buy one more pan! :-) Your grandmothers apple cake looks delicious too - definitely one to try.

Steph said...

moowiesqrd...loved your note about how you named your blog...too cute!

marcella...I agree, I was surprised too and couldn't justify another pan either!!

Lindsey said...

Beautiful photos & such a lovely memory. Recipes that evoke such memories are priceless!