Here is a delicate, delicious breakfast cake using the first Vermont apples of the season.
We stopped at Wellwood Orchard the other day, and bought a half-bushel of Ginger Gold apples. This mild and sweet variety is one of the earliest available here, and can be used for both eating and cooking. Ginger Gold also has the advantage of being very slow to brown after slicing.
Apples are the first hint of Fall, my favorite season. And indeed Fall is upon us; the average frost date for my part of Vermont is around September 15, which is ten days away! Hard to believe, since we had a heat wave this week, with temperatures around 90. The garden is still full of various vegetables in need of harvest, the basil is still growing strongly. The winter squash are sweetening on the vine, and unknown numbers of fingerling and purple potatoes are in the mounds.
These apples are a reminder to get busy and do something about the harvest, and to do all the usual winter-in-Vermont preparations. We went to the hardware store and ordered a replacement for the storm door that rotted under the yearly Everest-sized mountain of snow and ice that slides off the roof. That load of snow also collapsed the wide stairs going down to the formal garden, and they aren't fixed yet. If you have any tips on how to put in Sonotubes, please let me know.
I plan to replenish my supply of applesauce, make some pies, do a little baking and have some left over to pack in my lunchbox. I don't really have a lunchbox, but I wish I did; the kind with a kind of humped, gambrel-looking top containing a thermos. But for starters, I made this breakfast cake with the ginger golds, and it's marvelous.
Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cake
Preheat oven to 350F (325 if convection)
Spray a rectangular baking pan with cooking spray. Mine has a removable bottom, and is approximately 8" x 12".
For the poach:
3 large cooking apples, like Ginger Gold, cored, peeled and sliced 1/3" thick
2 T sugar
2 T apple jelly or similar mild jelly
1/4 cup water
Wet ingredient mix:
6 1/2 oz. unsalted butter, almost melted (very soft), stirred in a bowl
3/4 cup caster sugar (very fine sugar) or regular sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cream
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
Additional 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, to stir into the cooled apples
2 T sparkling white coarse decorating sugar (optional), or similar
1. In nonreactive saute pan, combine the Poach ingredients and cook rapidly until the apples are just tender, about 8-10 minutes. The liquid should be a syrup at this point. Set aside.
2. In an electric mixer bowl with whisk attachment, combine the butter and caster sugar, and whip on high speed until very light. This will happen rather quickly with the fine caster sugar, but if you use regular granulated sugar, give it a couple of minutes so that the sugar can dissolve.
3. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until completely mixed. While the mixer is running, add the buttermilk and cream, mixing until smooth.
4. Stir the dry ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl, then add to the electrix mixer bowl. Mix until well combined. The batter should be thick and light.
5. Put the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the edges with the back of spoon. Stir 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon into the cooled apple mixture until well-mixed. Pour the apples on top of the batter, then distribute evenly and press lightly into the batter.
6. Baking: Place in preheated 350F oven (325 if convection), and bake for 10 minutes. At this point, quickly sprinkle the decorating sugar on top (optional) and place back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Monitor the bake. If the cake is browning too rapidly, reduce the heat a bit. Test for doneness by inserting a wooden toothpick into the center; it should come out clean. If it does not come out clean, continue baking for ten minutes and test again.
7. Remove from oven and cool on rack for 15 minutes.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Heidi and Libby can now share airspace.