The alphabet post: Apples, Batlow, Cake

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We are almost at the end of our road trip, and have eaten our way around a few villages and towns.

Sure, there are more Aussie meat pies and pub steaks than you can poke a kangaroo paw at; and at least one dinner in an RSL (soldiers and veterans) club Chinese restaurant, which served local favourites like honey chicken and sweet and sour pork… But, we also had freshly caught trout from the pristine Snowy Mountains lakes, home made jams and tea cosies (ok, tea cosies aren’t food, but they might just deserve a post to themselves), local beer, wine and schnapps, just baked bread and pastries, good coffee in surprisingly hipster cafes, and new season apples from Batlow, one of Australia’s apple producing regions at the foot of the Snowy.

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If food was the icing on the cake for the trip, then the rural environment revealed itself to be a multi layered and endlessly fascinating cake.

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One day we were climbing the granite peaks of Mount Kosciuszko, snuggled up in gloves and beanies; another day we were bare feet on the beach, having driven through a patch of rainforest, across rich dairy farms, on a dirt road (in our small city car! and we made it!!) and to the ocean. We looked at a wooden cabin tucked away on oh-so-picturesque acres and wondered if it could become our holiday retreat (maybe, if we had a sea plane that can land on the nearby lake, or became a lady & gent of leisure).

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For days, I had that broad, slow-spoken rural Aussie accent in my ears. Farmer types that greeted each other with “G’day”, “yeah mate”, occasionally “strewth“, and generally as few words as possible. In the evenings, even in the smallest communities we visited, guys greeted other guys – and the publicans – in the local pub over a social beer or two.

~~~

New season apples began appearing in the shops before Easter, and I made this apple cake. While apple season lasts, I’ll probably make this a few more times.

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The recipe is Marie-Hélène’s apple cake, from Dorie Greenspan and adapted by David Lebovitz. Many bloggers have written about this recipe, including the French Fridays with Dorie crew and Fiesta Friday party-goer Patty (though the experience was more, um, exciting for her). This really is a perfect example of pared back elegance.

The cake has more apples than cake batter, it really is all about the apples. The batter is simple, though heady with vanilla and calvados (apple brandy). The whole thing bakes into one moist, wonderful, fragrant whole. It tastes clean, homely, sweet but not too sweet. The combination of apples, vanilla, calvados tempts you back for just one more slice – time and again – until somehow there is no apple cake left.

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This time, I dared to temper with perfection and added a hazelnut/cream topping, which added an extra bit of crunch to the cake. Think of a streusel topping, but with less than a quarter the amount of streusel.

And, to make easy sharing, I baked these in mini cake pans and mini pie dishes. The pie-cakes stayed at home as dessert. The mini cakes went to work to be shared with friends.

I’ve found this is a great way to show off those heirloom apple varieties, as the minimal, simple batter sits back and helps the apples’ flavours to shine, rather than distracting you from the apples.

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Tonight, because it’s Anzac day, I’ll be serving some of our apple bounty baked, with an Anzac biscuits (cookies in American English :-) ) crumble topping. This is one of my go-to Anzac biscuits recipes, and the Sydney Living Museum blog recently featured a post about this Aussie and New Zealand food icon. Tonight’s crumble will be improvised with beach house pantry staples, probably with a handful of macadamia nuts and spoonfuls of local honey. I might even get some of the Fiesta Friday crowd to play two-up – but only if it’s legal to play on Anzac day in your state!!

Before my excitement bubbles over, I’ll leave you with the apple cake recipe.

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French apple cake
(based on recipe from Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table)

Ingredients

Cake
3/4 cup or 110g flour (I’ve also used 70g plain flour + 50g finely chopped almonds instead)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (a mix of varieties)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) sugar (I used mostly castor / granulated sugar plus a bit of brown sugar)
3 tablespoons calvados/apple brandy, substitute good brandy or dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or more if you don’t have calvados)
8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature

Topping, I made this bit up
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon castor sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven.

2. Heavily butter a 20-23cm springform pan and place it on a baking tray. (Or, 5-6 mini-things, like pie dishes / cake pans)

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almond, baking powder, and salt.

4. Peel and core the apples, then dice into small-med bits. (If using mini-whatever, slice them smaller and thinner, as they will spend less time in the oven)

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until foamy-ish, then rum/brandy and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then stir in half of the butter, do the same with remaining flour /butter.

6. Fold in the apple until they’re well-coated with the batter and scrape them into the cake pan.

7. Bake for 40 minutes for full sized cake (about 20-25 min for mini-versions), mix topping ingredients together and randomly dollop over cake(s). Return to oven for another 10-20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean-ish. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, loosen from the pan and remove.

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84 thoughts on “The alphabet post: Apples, Batlow, Cake

  1. Patty Nguyen 25 April 2014 at 2:06 pm Reply

    Oooh yum!! Love this! Now I’m craving some apple cake. :P

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 3:40 pm Reply

      Thanks!! I couldn’t believe how quickly I ate the cake, both times I made it! Lucky I can tell myself it’s full of apples so almost a health food. ;-)

  2. Liz 25 April 2014 at 2:47 pm Reply

    this is almost as bad as the gluttony cake! lol, looks decadent though also simple and homespun. And that’s where the calvados went? heehee. Enjoyed your About paragraph. Is that new or have I just missed it? Can see why I like you so much :-D

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 3:44 pm Reply

      Yep, that was the reason for buying calvados. We bought some pear schnapps on this road trip, so more drinks/food fun in store. Which reminds me, I will send that rum cake recipe when we get home, pre-Easter time just got away from me!
      The About paragraph has been up for a while, I tinker with it now and then. Glad you liked it! :-)

  3. tinywhitecottage 25 April 2014 at 2:53 pm Reply

    This is one gorgeous cake! Love how you had that broad, slow-spoken rural Aussie accent in your ears for days. I have a wonderful English accent in my head from my travels to England, it’s sort of stuck there though…I can’t speak it for the life of me. Nice post!

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 3:58 pm Reply

      Thank you! Some of the English are so pretty, but I also can’t speak it, same with the soft Welsh or Irish accents.
      I’m in love with this cake, it’s so simple but just wonderful! :-D

  4. Ngan R. 25 April 2014 at 2:58 pm Reply

    Swoon…I just made a French apple cake, too! Oh the love of apples, the decadence of cake, the smell of such sweet goods baking. Your mini cakes look amazing, so golden and perfectly shaped. I wish I had another cake, perhaps I will try your recipe next, as variations of Dorie Greenspan’s recipe looks to be quite popular. I think your impromptu nut and cream topping gave the cakes a lovely, creamy look.

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 4:01 pm Reply

      Thanks Ngan! This recipe is so good, and pretty adaptable, I can actually imagine making it using pears or other autumn fruit as well.
      Just saw your post about ginger sesame udon – that is sounding soooo good after a week in regional Australia!! :-D

  5. lapetitecasserole 25 April 2014 at 3:26 pm Reply

    The apple cake is an ever green, isn’t it? Your cake looks glorious and I’m sure the taste is amazing, especially if I look at ingredients you’ve used for the topping!

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 4:08 pm Reply

      It is, indeed! I’m also interested to read about / try the variations from different countries, including the Italian torta di mele! :-D

  6. lapetitepaniere 25 April 2014 at 6:08 pm Reply

    This apple cake looks so good and I love cooking with apples too. Great recipe, Saucy :)

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 6:22 pm Reply

      Thank you! It’s a simple recipe, which is great for casual autumn baking! :-D

  7. ladyredspecs 25 April 2014 at 6:14 pm Reply

    Glad you had a wonderful trip. Nothing better than a delicious apple cake. Have filed this for later…or maybe sooner. Thanks

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 6:23 pm Reply

      Am also thinking this may work with poached quince? Worth a try given apple quince season.

      • ladyredspecs 25 April 2014 at 6:24 pm

        I just happen to have ruby red poached quinces in the freezer. I might give it a whirl this weekend. Thanks

  8. Gather and Graze 25 April 2014 at 10:23 pm Reply

    Calvados sitting about in the pantry… apples from tomorrow’s Farmer’s market and I’ll be set to do a little baking tomorrow afternoon! Sounds like you visited some beautiful places while you were away! Had a good laugh reading your opening paragraphs… look forward to the tea cosy post! I love my green tea cosy with a few sparkly bits added to pretend it’s not totally naff! ;)

    • saucygander 25 April 2014 at 11:06 pm Reply

      Haha! Glad you liked the opening paragraphs Margot. Have you seen the books titled Wild Tea Cosies, and Really Wild Tea Cosies? They look hilarious, and maybe essential for my book shelf! :-D

      • Gather and Graze 26 April 2014 at 5:26 pm

        I’ll have to keep an eye out for them – thanks! Our school fete always have a fabulous range of wild and wonderful tea cosies – hard not to pick one up each year! :)

  9. […] Saucy […]

  10. Nancy 26 April 2014 at 12:31 am Reply

    I can’t decide what is better… the looks of this cake or the delicious sounding ingredients! Either way, I’d gladly have a slice. :) Beautiful road-trip photos you’re sharing, too!

    • saucygander 26 April 2014 at 10:28 am Reply

      Thanks Nancy! Sometimes the simple recipes are also the best ones, it’s definitely the case here. More road trip photos coming soon! :-D

  11. Jess 26 April 2014 at 12:40 am Reply

    Mmmmm, this cake looks yummy :-)

    • saucygander 26 April 2014 at 10:30 am Reply

      Thanks, Jess! It is, deceptively simple but addictive! :-)

  12. Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs 26 April 2014 at 12:41 am Reply

    Oh, did I love reading this post! Haha…poke a kangaroos paw at… too cute! Tea cozies? Let’s talk about them, wondering what they are?? It must have been a wonderful trip Saucy.. and I love living vicariously through everyone who travels to places that I know I will never, ever have the chance to visit. Just wonderful…

    This cake… oh my goodness. It’s a masterpiece. Just beautiful…and I know just as delicious with all of those lovely apples and the hazelnut / cream topping… this is a definite print and save recipe!!

    Thank you for sharing a perfectly appley, hazelnutty, delicious cake with all of us on Fiesta Friday! It is perfect. <3

    • saucygander 26 April 2014 at 11:08 am Reply

      Thank you so much Prudy!! More travel photos coming soon, and a tea cosy post – they are woollen things you out over teapots to keep the tea warm, they are EVERYWHERE in Australia at the moment, some kind of craft revival – naff but also wacky-creative. :-D

  13. Lori 26 April 2014 at 3:03 am Reply

    Your trip sounds lovely Saucy! And this cake?! Wow! Delicious!

    • saucygander 26 April 2014 at 11:04 am Reply

      Thanks Lori, it is a simple yet marvelous cake! :-)

  14. Jhuls 26 April 2014 at 3:08 am Reply

    The cake looks delicious!! I could have a slice now!! :)

    • saucygander 26 April 2014 at 11:03 am Reply

      Of course, I saved some for you! :-D

      • Jhuls 26 April 2014 at 1:44 pm

        Thank you! :D Have a wonderful weekend! :)

  15. chefjulianna 26 April 2014 at 3:39 am Reply

    This is an awesome cake Saucy! Funny thing is, that I looked at your photo and thought the cake looked familiar! Then as I read your post, I realized that I had made it before, a couple of months ago. It really is delicious and not so filling because of all of the apples. I used rum in my recipe, but I would love to try it with Calvados! I also love your topping; I just served mine warm with a bit of ice-cream. :D

    • saucygander 26 April 2014 at 10:47 am Reply

      Yep, this cake looks pretty popular, and for good reason, isn’t it just wonderful? Ice cream with warm came is sounding so good. Next time, I’m thinking about trying this recipe with new season pears and some pear schnapps we picked up on this road trip. Or quince. :-)

      • chefjulianna 26 April 2014 at 5:36 pm

        Oooohhh, you are giving me a few ideas too!

  16. Aditi 26 April 2014 at 4:54 am Reply

    Oh yum. Love the mini cakes. We’ll get a bigger share with one whole mini cake too! :)

  17. Dimple@shivaaydelights 26 April 2014 at 7:48 am Reply

    Love the colour and the bake is incredible!

  18. oceanviewkitchen 26 April 2014 at 8:41 am Reply

    what a gorgeous cake! i love the toppings!

  19. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 26 April 2014 at 12:37 pm Reply

    What a divine looking apple cake! I love apples but am trying to prolong the time with other fruit because I know that we’ll have so much apple and pear in winter!

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 9:07 am Reply

      Oh I know, I’m afraid I’ve missed persimmon season this year, it’s one of my favourite fruits! At least there’s quince..

  20. thebrookcook 26 April 2014 at 12:39 pm Reply

    This apple cake looks so ultra-fabulous with the focus on the apples, not the cake… my mouth is watering! Beautiful!

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 9:05 am Reply

      Thank you! It’s a great cake for autumn’s harvest! :-D

  21. Michelle 26 April 2014 at 1:58 pm Reply

    I am thrilled we’re just starting on the spring bounty, but I have to admit: apple season is the best season. And I can’t wait to make this come fall.

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 9:02 am Reply

      I’m living through the northern hemisphere spring through blogs such as yours, while enjoying our autumn’s bounty… best of both worlds, really. We also have quince in season at the moment, bliss!

  22. simplyvegetarian777 26 April 2014 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Saucy, you kept me going till the end. Loved your pictures. Heard you mumble about the rural, the apples,the accents, the cafés and all. Spell bundubg read ended with a gorgeous recipe. You know I have 4 green apples which are yelling to be used. This cake is on my list minus the rum, since kids would want to eat too. Saving this recipe. Happy Anzac Day….another cookie on my list to make.
    Cheers.

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 9:27 am Reply

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the stories in this post. If you make this cake without the rum, David Lebovitz recommended using a bit more vanilla. :-)

      • simplyvegetarian777 28 April 2014 at 10:43 am

        Thanks for the tip :)

      • simplyvegetarian777 29 April 2014 at 7:08 am

        Making it today. Skipped the liquor and added cinnamon plus all spice. Also, added past flour to the base :). Smells gorgeous. Will post it!

      • saucygander 29 April 2014 at 9:14 pm

        Your changes sound wonderful! Cinnamon and allspice would make the cake so aromatic, thanks so much for letting me know about your cake!! :-D

  23. spiceinthecity 27 April 2014 at 2:12 am Reply

    This cake sounds really lovely Saucy. I’m gonna try it out in late summer when my little apple tree bears fruit :) Thank you for the recipe!

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 8:59 am Reply

      How lucky you are to have your own apple tree! Thanks for visiting!

  24. eclecticoddsnsods 27 April 2014 at 3:04 am Reply

    i shall save this for the summer when my apple tree is in full bloom x

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 9:25 am Reply

      Making this with apples from your own tree would be so much more fun!

      • eclecticoddsnsods 28 April 2014 at 7:21 pm

        its great i love it, i thought they were cooking apples for the last four years lol only found out they were eating apples last year duh, however they are still fine to cook with, just a fiddle to peel and core etc as small x

  25. Sadia Mohamed 27 April 2014 at 4:27 am Reply

    Oooh woow look at that cake!!! It looks soo delish. The best part, its super healthy too. Luuuv it. N btw superb write up. Enjoyed reading it. :)

  26. cookingwithauntjuju.com 27 April 2014 at 7:11 am Reply

    What a lovely looking apple cake – I usually save many apple recipes until Fall when Michigan apples are in abundance but maybe I need to try your cake now! I enjoyed reading your commentary throughout… :)

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 9:30 am Reply

      Ooh Michigan apples would be so good! I’ve been reading up on apple varieties, and if we visit America, I’ll be on a mission to try the apples that we don’t get in Australia. :-D

  27. deliciouslynell 27 April 2014 at 6:52 pm Reply

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time! And that cake looks absolutely delicious. :)

    • saucygander 27 April 2014 at 8:54 pm Reply

      Thank you, we had a great time on the trip, and there’ll be more travel photos coming. :-)

  28. whatjessicabakednext 28 April 2014 at 12:20 am Reply

    I love apple cakes- this looks absolutely amazing!

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 7:44 am Reply

      Thank you Jessica! It’s a fail safe recipe! :-)

  29. Laura 28 April 2014 at 12:25 am Reply

    Beautiful pictures – and that cake looks divine!

  30. Karen 28 April 2014 at 6:04 am Reply

    I can’t wait to try the apple cake when we start picking apples in our orchard this fall. It looks and sounds terrific.

    • saucygander 28 April 2014 at 7:42 am Reply

      Thanks Karen, you can’t go wrong with Dorie Greenspan *and* David Lebovitz!

  31. lemongrovecakediaries 28 April 2014 at 9:07 am Reply

    Strewth SG that sounds like a cracking road trip – bring back the tea cosy I say :)

  32. Coffee and Crumpets 28 April 2014 at 2:56 pm Reply

    I love tea cosies. They don’t have them here in the US and I don’t know where my mums are anymore form England. I’ve though about sewing some, but never got around to it. Looks like a great road trip! Those are so much fun. And this cake looks beautiful! Apple cakes are amazing, and I love how this one glistens!

  33. Sally 28 April 2014 at 3:20 pm Reply

    I’d love a post on tea cosies! Enjoyed the vivid picture you paint about your trip – especially the people…which is an essential part of traveling. Apple cake (more apple than cake) reminds me of my Polish aunt’s recipe made only with windfalls.

    • saucygander 29 April 2014 at 11:29 pm Reply

      Tea cosies coming up. I’m finding it fascinating how so many countries and cultures have their version of apple cake!

  34. Johnny / Kitschnflavours 29 April 2014 at 11:42 am Reply

    It has to be a health food with that many apples! And this I would adore.
    Road trip sounds like you had a great time. Just can’t imagine what rural Australia would be like. Probably not that dissimilar to where I grew up!

    • saucygander 29 April 2014 at 9:22 pm Reply

      Yes, I am pretty sure you would like this cake, lots if fruit and not too much sugar.

      The main differences between rural Australia and UK are, maybe, how much empty space is in rural Australia (in some places farmers talk about how many hectares per head of cattle); and then, how much greener everything is in the UK. Green like real, lots of rain green. Unlike here where even green paddocks can have a yellowy dry look.

      And then, the Aussie accent!

      Worth a visit! :-)

  35. laurasmess 29 April 2014 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Oh my gosh. I am absolutely DROOLING over that apple cake!! How gorgeously moist, packed with apples, beautiful! I know what you mean about the rural environment, too… I always feel so inspired to bake, use local produce and forage for wild herbs when I’m in the country. There’s something essentially human and pure about it. Haha… your mention of the word ‘strewth’ made me think back to Alf (is that his name?) from Home and Away. My mum used to watch it when I was a child and I always associate any Australian slang with him (‘Flaming galahs’)! Great post. I feel relaxed just looking at your photographs of the trees… ahh! xx

    • saucygander 29 April 2014 at 9:25 pm Reply

      We also thought of Alf when we heard “strewth”! Haha, great minds (or at least H&A watchers) think alike.

      I hope to post some more photos from the trip soon, just need to sort through them all!

      • laurasmess 29 April 2014 at 10:05 pm

        Would love to see more! Haha… I know what you mean about ‘sorting’, Aaron and I have collected hundreds of photos on our hard drive that we haven’t looked at properly! So different to the ‘film photography’ days of printing stuff off (now I feel old!) x

      • saucygander 29 April 2014 at 11:21 pm

        Not old, wise! :-)

  36. tableofcolors 30 April 2014 at 8:23 am Reply

    Looks so delicious!

  37. […] one that I baked was from my Australian mate, Saucy Gander’s French Apple Cake. I did it again. Twisted the recipe. It called for some brandy etc but I knew that the kids would […]

  38. polianthus 1 May 2014 at 10:34 pm Reply

    oh i have missed you I have just read through this post, your description of the australians and wide open spaces and speed of life or slowness there-of make me want to come over there and the cake looks divine. havent had much time to spend online recently must come over and catch up!
    slice of apple cake on line would be cool now

  39. […] I already had apples in my fridge and the rain drenched weather was calling for it! Saucy’s French Apple Cake was so much more richer than mine. She inspired me to cut down on the refined flour in the main […]

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