08 Oct Layered Apple Pound Cake
These are Mutsus, also known as Crispins. They’re firm and semi-tart, and have white flesh. They’re also Ontario’s only truly green apple. I learned this last weekend while I traipsed about the orchard at Nature’s Bounty on a tour. In the drizzle.
On the other side of the colour spectrum are Idareds. They’re firm like the Crispin, but tart. Here they are dripping with rain, clinging to the tree, defying the overcast skies with their nearly glowing red skins.
Even the rain didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. We were all like kids in the candy shop. Only the candies were apples and the shop was a rolling orchard with sheep, a guard llama, and more gourds than I could count.
There are a staggering 7500 apple varieties grown throughout the world. Due to climate, space, and demand, Ontario produces about 20, which will more than serve your baking, cooking, preserving and snacking needs.
With so many varieties with such diverse colours, flavours and textures, how do you compare apples to apples?
I don’t think you can. Russets are small, surprisingly hard, and sweet with an amber skin with flecks of brown. Super-sized Honeycrisps are warm yellow with a kiss of rose. They’re firm, but not in the Russets’ league. Not pictured are the McIntosh and Macoun, both red and round and tender. But the McIntosh has a bite, while the Macoun delivers hints of floral perfume as if the bees had stopped by a patch of elderflower on their way to the orchard.
Size, texture, taste, flesh colour, shape, all differ. Here are some of the local varieties we sampled. You can see they even brown at different rates.
Layered Apple Pound Cake
I wanted to make something a little different that still bordered on comfort food. I decided to make a lemon pound cake studded with candied ginger and with layers of finely slivered apples. The apple keeps the cake very moist. A shield of lemon-ginger glaze covers it for good measure. Plus, it creates a wonderful mess factor that screams “homemade”.
For this Layered Apple Pound Cake, I used a firm-sweet apple since the ginger and lemon have a bit of tang. Choose from Honeycrisp, Mutsu, Golden Delicious or Jonagold. Tender apples, like McIntosh, Gala and Ambrosia might fall apart too much, so save them for eating straight out of your hand.
I used a mandolin on the thinnest setting to slice the apples. If you don’t have a mandolin cut the apples as thinly as possible. Two thin layers of apple will bake into the cake better than one thick slice.
The only other caution is to make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature. This cake isn’t beaten very much so you need the batter to come together quickly.
This resulting cake is moist, tender, and not too sweet thanks to the tangy glaze. If you don’t like the bite of the ginger, you can omit it, but I think it brings out the best in apples.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup butter, cut in cubes and softened
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 small or ½ a large firm, sweet apple (Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Mutsu/Crispin, Golden Delicious are good choices)
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with parchment. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, place the flour, sugar, crystallized ginger, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
- Toss the butter cubes over the flour distributing them fairly evenly. In a liquid measuring cup, measure the buttermilk, then use a fork to whisk in the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the butter and flour. Beat for 1 minute on medium. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on high for 1 minute if using a stand mixer or 2 minutes if using am electric hand mixer.
- Core the apple. Leave the skin on but cut the apple in half from top to bottom. Slice VERY thinly (aim for 1/16th of an inch), using a mandolin, if possible. Leaving this to the last minute ensures the apple slices won’t discolour.
- Spoon a third of the cake batter into the loaf pan and smooth flat. Place half the apple slices evenly over the batter, layering them so they overlap. Spoon a third of the batter on top of the apple layer, being careful not to dislodge them when you smooth the batter. Layer the second half of sliced apple over the batter, and top with the remaining batter, smoothing one final time.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is golden and a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar, lemon juice, and ginger together until smooth in a liquid measure or small bowl. Set aside.
- Place loaf pan on a rack to cool. Poke holes in the top of the cake with a cake tester, wooden skewer or toothpick. Spread half the glaze over the cake and let it seep in while the cake cools. Once the cake is cooled, remove from the pan and drizzle with the remaining glaze, letting it drip over the sides for effect. Neat freaks can leave the loaf in the parchment-lined pan to contain the second layer of glaze. Let glaze set for about a half hour before slicing with a serrated knife to reveal the hidden apple layers.
- * You want about 4 ounces of sliced apple
Disclosure: From time to time I work with companies that are a good fit for my brand. This post is sponsored by the Ontario Apple Growers. I have been compensated for creating a recipe of my own choosing. I chose cake.