Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Perfect Apple Cake...

The Perfect Apple Cake
The Perfect Apple Cake...

A long love affair with fall apples led me on my quest for the perfect apple cake. I've already got the pie thing down. When trying different cake recipes, I found the right combination, from using different techniques and varying quantities from several recipes, all mashed into one. My. Perfect. Version.This cake is moist, but with a great crumb, soft apples punctuated by fragrant nutmeg, and vanilla.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8 inch springform pan. Peel, core, and slice the apples. With half of the apples, turn the slices, and chop three or four times, to get a large dice.
  2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt until blended, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and honey and beat until fluffy. Add each egg, one at a time, mixing in between, then the vanilla. Scrape your bowl and beat again **I know this seems like a lot of steps, when really, you just want to throw it all in the bowl at once, and mix like a maniac. But, I must stress, that going slowly in this order, really does ensure proper incorporation of all ingredients, and ultimately leads to a more tender cake, and one that doesn't fall in the oven, or rise improperly. So, please do resist the urge to mix everything together at once**
  4. Finally, beat in the milk. At this point, the batter will look kind of weird, like its curdled, don't worry, I promise it will come together when you add the flour. So, on that note, add the flour mixture, and beat until you get a smooth, creamy, beige batter. Woo hoo!
  5. Now stir in your chopped apples, and spread into the prepped pan. Arrange the apple slices, overlapping them slightly, in a circular pattern over the batter.
  6. Put the pan on the top rack of your preheated 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes. Like with all cakes, this guy is done when a toothpick (or dried spaghetti noodle, is what I use) inserted into the center comes out dry. Allow cake to cool for a little while, and remove the sides of the pan. Voila! Its yummy, all by itself, no additional adornments needed... not even ice cream, which is a revelation for me...
Voila! Its yummy, all by itself, no additional adornments needed... not even ice cream, which is a revelation for me...:

Chocolate Caramel Tart

this is so many different kinds of wrong!...yum...


Chocolate Caramel Tart (adapted from Claudia Fleming > Marlow & Sons > Saveur)

For the Chocolate Tart Dough
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
For the Caramel Filling
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
For the Chocolate Ganache
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 325° F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough into a large circle 3/16 inch thick. Transfer the tart dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If it falls apart at all just push it back together in the pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prick the shell all over with a fork.  Line with parchment paper filled with pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights, and bake until the pastry looks dry and set, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead.)
Make the filling: Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel (I removed it when it was sort of a medium amber since I knew it would continue to cook off heat), about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and carefully (the mixture will bubble up) and slowly add the heavy cream followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the regrigerator.
Make the ganache glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganazhe over the tart. Refrigerate until set.
Remove the tart from the refridgerator 5-10 minutes before you are ready to serve it. Cut the tart into slices and sprinkle each with Fleur de Sel.