I will willingly pass up digging my way through thorny blackberry bushes, perspiring as I squat-crawl through the strawberry patches, and forsake the wasp-ridden rows of peach trees, but nothing - nothing can coerce me out of apple-picking.
I live an approximate two hours from the most glorious apple orchard. It sits high on a Virginia mountain top and boasts row after row and variety after variety of apples. Mr. Pedantic proposed to me on that mountain top nearly two years ago. He chose the spot because I had told him on one of our earliest meetings about that place and the grip it held, and continues to hold, upon this autumn-infatuated heart of mine.
The apples are crisp and undoubtably delightful, but there is so much more about a visit to the mountain. We drink the cider slushies, we drive past the endless population of vineyards, we devour half a dozen of the famed cider donuts, and, at the end of the day, when the air is just beginning to carry a chill, we load up our vehicle with the day's pickings. Some are destined for the fruit basket, but many will find their way into my oven.
This apple cake is just the kind of recipe I love baking after a day of apple-picking. It is simple - not overwhelming the delicate flavors of the apples themselves, but accenting it.
Spices are minimal, moisture abundant, and enjoyment guarenteed.
This cake strikes that happy line of identity ambivalence. It could be dessert, or it could be breakfast. It is not too fancy to be eaten off a paper towel while passing through the kitchen, but is more than willing to posh up and sit alongside your afternoon cup of tea. It's what I love to call a snack cake, but I might serve on a gilded pedestal to guests.
I am a anglophile who appreciates the american demands for options, what can I say?
Just look at this rosy pink hue.
Sometimes I just stare at apples and whisper compliments because they really are one of my favorite things about this lovely, imperfect world.
While this apple cake cools, filling your home with that undeniably magical fragrance of fall, we get to make a glaze - a cider glaze. Oh yes.
Apple cider is reduced down to a syrup before being whisked into a thick glaze, perfect for drizzling.
But before we drizzle, let me backtrack for just moment. I have a beautiful, floral bundt pan that produces a truly gorgeous cake, but I would never consider using that pan for this cake. Rather, I would recommend a very simply shaped pan for this particular recipe, nothing too ornate, for one very good reason. The apples are really the star of this cake and I chop them fairly large so a pan with delicate design features is not ideal. More than likely, when trying to flip your cake, much of it would be left in the tinier nooks of the pan. Choose a rounded bundt pan that is simple in design. What it may lack in elegance, it makes up in practically everything else.
Now, the drizzling.
After the glaze has set and you have nearly lost your mind with anticipation, it is time to slice.
Oh autumn, I love you.
This really is one of the most delightful cakes I have made in years.
Apple Cake with Cider Glaze
for the cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium gala apples, peeled and diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the softened butter in the work bowl of your stand mixer and beat on medium speed for one minute; until fluffy. Add sugars and beat for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is well combined.
In a large bowl, whisk to combine cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Combine buttermilk, cider, and vanilla extract in a large measuring cup.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and buttermilk mixtures in increments, alternating between the two until the batter is smooth and all the ingredients are well combined.
Fold the apples into the batter using a spatula. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick spray and gently fold the batter into the pan.
Bake for 60-70 minutes - until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a cooling rack for about 1 hour; until completely cool. While the cake cools, prepare the glaze.
for the glaze
1 cup apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Place the apple cider and cinnamon stick in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a heavy simmer over medium high heat. Allow the cider to simmer and reduce for about twenty minutes; until it has reduced down to 1/4 cup.
Remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the reduced cider to a small mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly before whisking in the confectioner's sugar.
Flip your cooled cake out onto a platter or cake stand and drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Allow the glaze to set for about fifteen minutes before serving. Enjoy!