Maple Walnut Apple Cake
I found myself last weekend struggling to close our crisper drawer, due to the fact that it was bursting (literally) with apples from our fruit share. Not that that’s anything to complain about; little A is an enthusiastically devoted fan of my homemade applesauce, but since she’s also just begun walking(!), my prep time to peel a whole boatload of apples is somewhat limited (that girl will find the one thing I don’t want her to touch in the blink of an eye.) So when I put her down for a nap, I had in my mind that I’d throw together an apple cake, and I set out to make this recipe from David Lebovitz’s new book* Ready for Dessert. His version uses pears, but what apple doesn’t love maple and walnut flavors?
About an hour later, a lovely, homey, maple-syrupy-sweet-and-moist cake emerged from the oven, punctuated by crunchy bits of walnuts. And it’s absolutely delicious, though not perhaps the prettiest on the plate (and I was a little dismayed to see that my pretty arrangement of apple slices was completely hidden underneath the walnut topping.)
Happily, it’s even *better* the second day, after the sticky maple syrup caramel has seeped into the cake. So, upside-down cake, please consider yourself added to the repertoire.
(I have my friend to thank for the book – hi Maggie! – and I only wish she lived closer so I could have shared a piece of this cake with her.)
Maple-Walnut Apple Cake
Adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz
The original recipe uses 3 ripe Bosc pears, which would be equally delicious. I love Grade B maple syrup for its deep maple flavor.
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Make the topping by combining the maple syrup and 1/4 dark or light brown sugar in a 9-inch cake pan or cast-iron skillet. Set the pan directly over the heat on the stovetop until it begins to bubble; simmer gently for 1 minute, stirring often. Remove pan from heat.
Sprinkle walnuts evenly over maple mixture in the pan, then arrange the apple slices decoratively over the walnuts (i.e. an overlapping pinwheel pattern.)
Make the cake: in a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt.) In a stand mixer or by hand, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup light brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Gradually mix in half the flour mixture, then stir in the milk, then add the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until combined.
Scrape the batter over the apples in the pan and carefully smooth into an even layer. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan.
Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert a serving plate over the pan, and using oven mitts, grasp both the pan and the plate and flip them over together. Carefully lift off the pan and gently rearrange any walnuts or fruit that have gone astray.