FFwD: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

The apple is the most cultivated tree fruit and the most used by humans.  There are more than 7,500 known variety of apples. The United States grows 2,500 of these, but just 100 of them are grown commercially. Apples are grown in 36 U.S. states, but six states — Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia — produce the vast majority.  

Want to impress your friends with your uncanny knowledge of this autumn favorite?

  • Apples float because 25 percent of their volume is air.

  • It takes nearly 40 apples to make 1 gallon of cider.

  • You could eat a different apple every day for more than 19 years, and never eat the same kind twice!

  • The “Delicious” apple variety is the most widely grown variety in the United States.

  • An apple tree has to grow for four or five years before it will produce an apple.

  • Bobbing for apples started as a Celtic New Year’s tradition to determine whom you would marry.

  • In ancient times, apples were thrown at weddings (instead of rice or birdseed, like today … ouch!).

  • The apple belongs to the rose family.

When you Google “apple recipes” you are bound to get more than 40,900,000 hits.  There are a lot of people using a lot apples out there.

And the consumption of this fruit hits an all time high during the fall season. So nobody was very surprise, when the last choice made by Dorie, herself, for our inaugural month of French Fridays with Dorie was the Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake from her book, Around my French Table.  The story she tells is that she got the recipe from her friend Marie-Helene, who cooks like my grandmother use to cook - putting it all together and when you ask for the recipe, they look at you and tell you a little bit of that, and a bit of that, and oh.. yeah some of that too.  I guess that is the old fashion way of cooking, throw it all in there and voila out comes something great.

And in this case, something not great, not good, but spectacular.

This is coming from me, who is not a fan of cakes mixed in with fruit.

But this cake is just.. words escape me.

I can tell you this, besides the fact that is soo good, the other factor that won me over is that this cake is so simple, it’s one of those recipes that end up in the repeat pile.  Because, this type of recipe reminds us that cooking and in this case, baking, does not need to be complicated.  Sometimes all you need is a couple of ingredients, a whisk, a bowl  a little bit of that, a bit of this and 15 minutes of your time to whip it all out and then let the oven do the rest.

So simple that I originally made this cake for a pot luck at work for today.  But, when I made it the day before, the smells were driving Tom crazy and he gave me the puppy eye look that I just cannot resist and ended up telling him to go ahead and eat a piece, that I would bake another one to take to work.  So, yes folks, I made two.

Main ingredient here? 


The fruit not the company.

And they are the stars of the cake… because the batter I swear is just for show, it sort of just there to bind the apples.  The recipes calls for a various types of apples and that is what makes the cake shine.  My particular combination was Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Fuji.

A quick tip: Don’t panic when the ration of apples to batter is way more… at the end it totally works out.

And if you have not gotten the book, this recipe alone is worth it.

Since this recipe has been printed in Epicurious.com, I’m going to share it with you.

Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake
from Around my French Table 

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used Almond extract instead of Vanilla)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the spring form on it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s even-ish.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature and, according to my husband, gets more comforting with each passing day. However long you keep the cake, it’s best not to cover it — it’s too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.


Tom: “I love it, its excellent and the combinations of the apples makes it even better”

I’m sure the feedback from my co-workers will be more of the same.

This one is a winner folks, and don’t take my word for it, check out the overwhelming sentiments from the FFwD cooking group.