Oh, beautiful fall. When we lived in Illinois, a place where maple trees turned flame orange and my breath came out in frosty clouds, I never much liked fall. Fall meant that we were barreling toward five months of freezing weather and cement skies.
Now that I live in a place where fall means 80 degrees and leaves that morph from green to brown, I love it. I miss the blazing trees and chilly mornings, but I’m so happy to have six months of moderate weather ahead.
My love of apples, pumpkins, and fall spices is limitless. That reminds me, I need to get started on some gingerbread and pop it in the freezer. I usually try to cram in about four gingerbread recipes during the month of December — just enough to satisfy me and not quite enough to make Greg throw a loaf at my head. I might have some serious interference on the gingerbread baking this December though.
For now, there is apple spice cake. This recipe forced me to admit that I need to rethink my laziness in the kitchen. I prefer one-pot meals and one-bowl baked goods. A lot of cakes require more than one bowl though. And a lot of those cakes, including this one, are fantastic. This is a grown-up cake — not too sweet, and more redolent of nutmeg than cinnamon. As David Lebovitz says, it would be good with a glaze, too, though for most grown-ups, a plain slice with a mug of tea or coffee will do just fine.
Apple spice cake via David Lebovitz
2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
4 tart, firm medium-size baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (regular or low-fat)
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet, and saute the apples over medium-high heat until they turn golden. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, and cook until the apples take on a glaze.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour a bundt pan. Beat the 12 tablespoons butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the buttermilk or yogurt, and then stir in the remaining dry ingredients until just barely mixed.
Fold in the apples, and pour into the pan. Bake 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out almost clean. I say almost because I over-baked my cake a bit. Let cake cool 10 minutes, and then dust with powdered sugar or pour on glaze.