Sunday, January 25, 2009

Apple Tart Cake

I've been intrigued by both of the latest recipes on Orangette, the cream of scallop soup and the apple tart cake. Of the two I thought I would be making the soup first, as I love scallops, I love soup, and I love the idea of combining the two. However, the method and the ingredients for that one were definitely more challenging than the tart cake, which only required that I buy a few apples as I had everything else.

First I have to say something about the name. There really is no better way to describe this, as it's neither a tart nor a cake, but has properties of both. Second, I'm not usually a fan of too much filling. Think of an apple pie ... toward the end of the slice I'm usually picking out some of the apples and concentrating on the crust and syrup/topping, which are the parts I like best. Also, I've made an apple cake before, and it also turned out too appley (and soggy from all the juice from the apples). So when making this cake I thought 3 apples were far too many (even despite the warning that it would seem that way), and that I would probably end up picking some off the top. Not so! It actually ended up being just right, so I'm pleased that I went ahead and used all 3 apples.

The one change I would make the next time is that more and more I'm preferring my desserts to be less sweet, so I'd change this to 3/4, maybe even 1/2, a cup of sugar. Too much sugar "numbs the palate" as Judy Rodgers says in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, and isn't good for you besides. I'd maybe also add a pinch of salt to the crust/cake. Now whenever I have a slice, I just sprinkle some salt on top, which gives it a nice depth of flavor.

Apple Tart Cake

As posted on Orangette


For the base:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly

For the topping:

  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment, combine the sugar, flour, and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Add the butter, and pulse until no large lumps remain. Add the vanilla and the egg, and blend well, until it resembles cornmeal.
  3. Dump it into the prepared springform pan. Nudge it around with your fingertips to distribute it evenly, and then gently press it along the bottom of the pan. You’re not trying to really tamp it down; you just want to compact it a little. At the edges, let it curve up ever so slightly, like a tart shell with a very low, subtle rim.
  4. Arrange the apple slices over the base in a tight circular pattern. It may seem as though you have too many apple slices to fit, but keep going. Really squeeze them in.
  5. Slide the pan into the oven, and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk to blend well.
  7. After the cake has baked for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven, and spoon the topping evenly over it.
  8. Bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the topping looks set.
  9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and cool for 20 minutes. Then run a thin knife around the edge to release any areas that may have stuck, and remove the sides of the pan. Cool completely before serving.

Orangette's Note: This cake is even better on the second day. So if you can, make it a day ahead: just wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature until you’re ready to eat it. We ate ours plain, but I think it would be great with vanilla ice cream.

Yield: about 8 servings

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