Overloaded with sweets lately? Got your fill the last few days? Here’s another one for the road; hope you don’t mind. It’s an Apple Kuchen (Apple Cake) from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook. Don’t worry – I’ve made this cake thrice already – it’s not over-the-top sweet at all. The only thing it is: über delicious – I couldn’t stop eating it if I tried.
Although the recipe comes from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook, the cake is the creation of Sally Schmitt, who owned the famed Yountville restaurant for much of the 80’s and early 90’s before the renowned chef bought it. Sally Schmitt, with her husband Don, and their family are now apple farmers and innkeepers at The Apple Farm in Philo, California. That seems to be the overarching stamp-of-approval or seal-of-guarantee that comes with this cake! It definitely has pedigree!
While the original included cranberries in the recipe, I opted out from that for now, choosing to focus on just the simplicity of one fruit – the glorious apple. Since that’s the only change I made, I reckon that either way you bake it (with or without the berries), this kuchen is something you’ll want to repeatedly make at home. I know we did!
Don’t leave out the hot cream sauce – although not a do-or-die situation, it does make a subtle difference in taste! A nuance you’ll find gratifying.
Since I am a huge – HUGE – Thomas Keller fan since dining at Per Se NYC, I have utmost trust in everything he does and every recipe he endorses. This one is no different, and as expected, it did not disappoint.
- ~~ For the Apple Cake ~~
- 6 tablespoons (85 g / 3 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature + more for the pan
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1-1/2 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (6 g) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
- ½ cup milk or light cream
- 2 to 3 Gravenstein or Golden Delicious apples
- cinnamon sugar* (optional - see note for recipe)
- icing sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- ~~ For the Hot Cream Sauce ~~
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (115 g / 4 oz) unsalted butter
- To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Butter a 9-inch round spring form pan.
- In a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment or by hand in a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and egg until mixture is fluffy and lightened in texture, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine four, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to the creamed butter mixture. Do not overbeat. Mix just until the ingredients are combined.
- Peel and core apples. Slice them into ¼-inch wedges.
- Spoon batter into the pan and level with an offset spatula.
- Press apple slices, core side down into the batter, about ¼-inch apart. Work the apple slices in a circular pattern like the spokes of a wheel.
- Sprinkle cake with cinnamon sugar, if using.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set on rack to cool.
- To make the hot cream sauce, combine cream, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Then, immediately reduce heat (to prevent scorching) and let simmer for 5 to 8 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar (if using). Pour hot cream sauce over warm apple kuchen.