Saturday, June 1, 2013

Apple Cake with Orange, Cranberry, and Sour Cherry

This delicious cake can just as easily appear on a dessert plate or as part of a decadent breakfast spread. To me, it's the equivalent of a cleaning-out-the-fridge pasta sauce or frittata, but for baking.  Obviously, what you have to use up in the kitchen may vary from me, but in my case, I had a couple of apples and a couple of oranges on their last legs, a jar of sour cherry jam that was getting a little long in the tooth, and a bag of dried cranberries in the cupboard to round things out.  These ingredients bake up into a moist, spicy cake that's full of fruit and flavor.  I really like that the cake isn't 100% sweet - the tart cranberries, bits of sour cherry from the jam, and slightly bitter orange zest add different dimensions of flavor that really make this cake interesting.

Apple Cake with Orange, Cranberry, and Sour Cherry (adapted from Nigel Slater's Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard)
Makes one 9-inch round cake

220 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
210 grams brown sugar
4 eggs
250 grams white whole wheat flour (or use regular whole wheat)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
200 grams apples, peeled, cored, and diced small (weigh after dicing, for me this was 1-1/2 apples)
100 grams dried cranberries
125 grams sour cherry jam (or use another tart jam or marmalade)
Finely grated zest of two small oranges

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9-inch round springform pan.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork.  Gradually beat the eggs into the butter-sugar mixture until combined - the batter may look curdled, but that's okay - it will all come together later.
4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold into the wet ingredients until almost completely combined.
5. In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, cranberries, jam, and orange zest until well combined.  Then, fold the fruit into the batter until evenly distributed.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until a tester comes out moist but clean.  Cool before serving.

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