As a baking novice, I resolved to follow recipes to a tee until I racked up more experience in the baking department. This was primarily to avoid major disasters such as using the wrong kind of flour, swapping baking powder for baking soda, or creating nonsense combinations of ingredients. I mean, what if I ended up with a flat cake or a giant sphere cake by adding too little or too much of…something? Not even sure what this ‘something’ would be…Air? Whipping speed? Who knows…
Well I’m shocked to report that this resolve lasted a total of 10 days from when I baked my first ever item, the Apple cheddar bread. Since then, I’ve made breads (or cakes? what’s the difference?) using safe proportions of key ingredients such as flour, baking soda, and baking powder while adding my own flair with the flavors. I’ve combined zucchini and cinnamon, pineapple and coconut, and of course, banana and brown sugar, because bananas are great at blackening at lighting speed, and noone wants to eat smushy bananas unless they’re in yogurt or in bread. I have had a couple hiccups, where using more watery fruits and veggies changed the texture of the cake by making it more or less dense when combined with the dry ingredients, but overall, the flavors were a hit.
This weekend, I brought together honeycrisp apples with lemon juice and cherry preserves along with the usual suspects to make this quintessentially fall cake. A hint of clove and cinnamon added just the right amount of spice and warmth to make you want to wear plaid shirts, knee-high boots, vests, and every other cliche piece of fall apparel you own.
I will say that the lemon flavor was rather light in this cake, which was ok with me, but I would double the amount of lemon juice if you want a more citrusy taste.
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 honeycrisp apples, cored and cut into large pieces (no need to peel)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (instead of 2 eggs)
3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice (use more for more prominent lemon flavor)
Preheat oven to 350F. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and set aside. Add the apples, vanilla, butter, applesauce, and lemon juice to a blender (I used the Vitamix) and puree. Start on the low/variable setting and gradually increase to speed 10 while using the Vitamix plunger device to push the apples into the blades. When the apples are broken down, blend on high for 15 seconds. Pour the liquids into the solids bowl and combine well. This is the part where I tell you not to over-mix the batter, but I’m still not sure what effect this can have. Pour the batter into an oiled 9 inch loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes. The cake is done when you can stick a fork or knife in the center and it comes out clean. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool for 15 minutes. Spread the cherry preserves on top of the cake and serve. This cake is perfect with a side of tea, or if you’re like me, a large glass of whole milk.