So here we go: a recipe for apple cake. Maybe it’s because a good and very old childhood friend of mine from Germany visited me last weekend, maybe it’s just because I love baking…and apple cake. For some reason my friend (you know who you are 🙂 ) and I spent a good share of our time talking about our old love of baking and about that almost institutional German habit of 4 o’clock afternoon coffee and cake, also referred to as Kaffee und Kuchen. With two to three sessions a day we surely paid our tributes to this tradition that weekend.
Anyways, the overabundance of apples in all sorts and shapes at the market is screaming for apple cake. While I really enjoy a piece of classic German Apfelkuchen and would definitely never turn down a piece of classic Dutch cinnamon-flavoured appeltaart, the one I keep coming back to comes with a hint of Italian flair. With almonds forming the base for the batter and a serious amount of lemon zest added, it’s a not too heavy, sweet-tart affair. Almost more apple then batter, it is very juicy, too. I adapted the recipe from Rose Gray’s and Ruth Rogers’ Italian Two Easy by cutting down on sugar (and replacing the white sugar with brown cane sugar), swapping cow milk for oat milk (almond milk should work, too) and white flour for rice flour.
Apple Cake with Lemon and Almonds
Adapted from Rose Gray’s and Ruth Rogers’ Italian Two Easy
Makes one 25cm diameter springform or 12 pieces
Note: To make this cake gluten-free, use gluten-free baking powder.
Zest of 2 organic lemons
5 small, sweet-tart apples such as Boskoop, Jonagold or Pink Lady
130g blanched almonds
90g butter, plus extra for greasing
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
150g fine light brown cane sugar
2 organic, free-range eggs
140ml oat milk (or almond milk)
25g rice flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
optional: a few cranberries (frozen or fresh)
optional: powder sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Grease a springform with some butter.
Start by zesting the lemons. Pulse the almonds in a food processor to a fine flour, mix with the rice flour and set aside. Peel, core and cut the apples into very fine slices, place them in a bowl and drizzle with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat and set aside.
In a standing mixer (or with a handheld one), using the spiral attachment, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence on medium-high speed for about 6-7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the melted butter and milk, mixing just until combined.
With a big spoon or spatula, fold the almond and rice flour mix into the sugar-eggs mixture until well combined. Add baking powder, lemon zest and ¾ of the apple slices. The batter will be quite runny.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform and spread the remaining apple slices evenly on top. Finish with some cranberries, if using.
Bake for 1 hour, until light golden on top. Leave to cool in the cake pan for about 1 hour, then take out of the pan and dust with powder sugar if using.