This is it: my hands-down most requested recipe. For years, my mother has made it for church potlucks, family dinners, and even meetings of the Officers’ Wives Club (back before my dad retired from the army). I made this cake just this past week for my science fiction/fantasy book group (we read Howl’s Moving Castle), and they all wanted the recipe, so here it is.
It’s a pretty unassuming-looking, humble cake, but once people try it, they usually want more. I think it manages to be both elegant and down-home at the same time — what more can you ask for?
This cake is moist, dense, and chock full of apples. As a finishing touch, my mother and I like to add a liberal sprinkling of sugar right when the cake comes out of the oven, making a crunchy crust that contrasts nicely with the chewy interior.
Some people like to add a half cup of toatsed chopped walnuts to the batter. Those people don’t understand the nature of apple cake.
Fresh Apple Cake
- four large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 3 cups flour
- 3/4 cup oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a big bowl, combine the chopped apples and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. (The mixture will seem dry, powdery, and cling to the apples.)
In a large liquid measuring cup, measure out 3/4 cup oil. Add vanilla and eggs to the oil and combine with a fork or small whisk. Pour liquid ingredients into the apple mixture and mix very well, using wooden spoon and spatula to scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Keep mixing until flour is entirely combined — the batter will be very thick, the consistency of paste. Pour batter into a greased 9″x13″ pan, smoothing top evenly with a spatula. Bake for 60 minutes, or until center of cake springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. (My oven runs cold, so I usually have to bake this cake for 80 minutes.)
When the cake is done, remove from oven, place the pan on a cooling rack, and immediately sprinkle liberally with sugar for the topping. My mom likes to pour on enough sugar to make the cake disappear, but I think that’s overkill.
This cake is really, really moist, so all you need to store leftovers is a layer of aluminum foil, although I’ve left it uncovered for the night and found it still moist in the morning.
You can also bake this cake in two round 8″ pans, which lets you put the cake on a fancy glass stand or whatever. Either way, you’ll find that eating this cake with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream may be a moral imperative for your family.