Does everyone out there subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated Magazine? If not, you should! Every recipe that I’ve made from it has been outstanding- and that’s no exaggeration! Many of my favorite recipes come directly from this magazine, with no tweaking ever. See the cannoli ice cream cake for one that I’ve already posted here on the blog. The recipes are always a bit more involved and the methods are more complicated, but the result is perfection. This cake is no exception.
My kids especially love this cake and slice a piece off every time they pass by. I have doubled the recipe here – unfortunately my pan was not quite large enough for the batter and it overflowed a tiny bit while baking, but no worries. You could easily cut proportions in half and bake in an 8 inch square pan.
Here’s what you need:
1 ½ C (about 2 ounces) dried apples, cut into small pieces
2 C apple cider
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/3 C sugar
1 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
¼ t cloves
3 C flour
2 t baking soda
2 C unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1 t salt
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
Here’s what you do:
Cut the dried apples in smallish pieces and simmer with the cider for about 20 minutes. (or less time if you are making a smaller cake.) Stir frequently and when the liquid has evaporated, remove and cool to room temperature. (I cool mine by placing the pot in an ice water bath)
Mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves with a whisk. Remove 4 Tablespoons of the sugar/spice mixture to a small bowl and set aside. This will be the topping later.
Whisk the flour and baking soda and set aside. Prepare the pan by spraying it, then fitting in parchment paper or foil and then spraying it again. This cake is easy to remove!
When the apple/apple cider mixture is cool, process it along with the applesauce and vanilla in a food processor. Scrap the sides so there are no large chunks of apple. This will become the most delicious and intense base for the cake.
Whisk the eggs and salt. Add the sugar/spice mixture (NOT the topping) and whisk until light in color. Add the butter – keep whisking. Add the applesauce mixture – keep whisking.
Add the flour/soda mixture and with a wooden spoon mix until just incorporated. Be gentle.
Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle sugar/spice topping over the cake and bake at 325 degrees for about 50-60 minutes.
This is a very dense and moist cake – Don’t take it out of the oven until it is completely set and a knife comes out clean from the center of the cake.
We all have our favorite pieces of the cake..... the proof is in this picture!