Sunken Apple and Honey Cake
One of my biggest motivation in cooking is the opportunity to learn about food cultures and history. I wasn't even aware of Rosh Hashanah, the 2-day celebration of Jewish New Year, until I walked into Breads Bakery yesterday. I must've looked like a kid inside my favourite New York bakery. There were challahs everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. My eyes darted from the ones spiraling around blue ceramic dipping bowls, to the ones snailed into large rounds dotted with raisins, and my favourite, the perfectly twisted ones with a dust of mixed seeds and nuts.
Although I'm not Jewish, I couldn't resist the temptation to "cook for the occasion". After drooling over Smitten Kitchen's Jewish recipe index, I decided on this easy apple cake with the coolest name ever. The ingredients were readily available in my kitchen, and it made the apartment smell SO good. Apple and honey are typical flavours during Rosh Hashana, symbolizing the sweetness in the year ahead. But hey, I wouldn't mind having some extra sweetness over the rest of the year.
Sunken Apple and Honey Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Makes 1 - 9" round cake.
I didn't alter the recipe much except for reducing the amount of sugar and streamlining the steps. The honey glaze did sink into the cake after a couple hours of application like Deb describes. If not for photography purpose, I wouldn't recommend reglazing more than three times or it will become too sweet. Experiment with different kinds of honey for a slight change in flavour profile! It actually makes a difference since there are no extra spices and flavorings. I used a mild golden blossom honey for the cake and a dark, nutty buckwheat honey for the glaze.
For the Cake Batter:
9 tablespoon/125 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature and separated
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
For the Topping:
4 small apples, halved, peeled and cored (I used 2 medium-large apples)
Fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the Honey Glaze:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease and line the bottome of a 9-inch springform and set aside.
- Prepare apples topping. Place peeled, halved and cored apples cut-side-down on a cutting board. Use a paring knife to create parallel thin slices, but don't cut through the bottom so the apples stay intact. It's not the end of the world if you cut through the bottom, just reassemble the halves on the cake before you bake. Please apples in a bowl and toss with lemon juice and granulated sugar.
- Make the cake batter. In a large bowl, mix butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add honey and beat again. Add vanilla and egg yolks, and beat until just combined. Sprinkle salt over cake batter, and mix briefly until it disappears. Repeat with baking powder. Finally, mix in flour in 2 additions, until just combined.
- In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks. Fold into the cake batter in 4 additions. It will seem quite thick at first but carefully fold and it will eventually loosen. Gently fold in the last addition until just combined, a couple faint streaks of egg white are fine.
- Spread cake batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange apple halves facedown over the cake batter, you may have extra. Don't press the apples into the batter, the cake will rise as it goes into the oven and surround the apples. You can pour any extra lemon juice and sugar liquid over the apples for an extra moist texture.
- Bake cake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then release from the pan sides and let cool completely.
- Glaze and serve. Before serving, warm 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt until it liquefies and is runny enough to make a thin glaze. Brush honey-salt mixture over cooled cake and serve.
- The cake can be stored at room temperature, with or without the honey glaze, for up to 3 days. In humid areas, the fridge is best for longevity. Like any fruit cake, this cake develops its flavour over time, and is perfectly sweet and moist on day 2 and 3.