Strap: This cake uses a bounty of apples-green and red, all available right now and all very delicious in this cake that’s a hybrid between pie and cake, all beautiful enrobed in a silky cinnamon and brown butter buttercream icing.
For The Apple Cake
Apple juice 1 1/2 cup (juice fresh apples for best flavour, but juice from a tetra pack is okay too if that’s all you’ve got)
All-purpose flour 450g or 3 cups
Baking soda 1 1/2 tsp
Powdered almonds 60g
Salt a pinch
Caster sugar 660g or 3 cups
Eggs 3, room temperature
Vanilla extract 1 1/2 tsp
For The Apple Filling
Granny Smith apples 600g
Butter 2 tbsp
Brown sugar 1/2 cup
Cinnamon powder 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Juice of a lime
For The Pie Crumbs
Caster Sugar 1 tablespoon
Salt one large pinch
Butter 4 tablespoons or 57g, melted quickly in 10 second bursts in the microwave
Water 3/4th tablespoon
For The Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Salted butter 350g, taken out of the refrigerator when you start on the buttercream
Egg whites 180g
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
For The Cake:
Start by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius. Grease and line 3 x 18cm cake tins with baking paper and keep aside.
In a saucepan, heat together the apple juice and butter over low heat. Once the butter has melted completely, take the saucepan off the heat and let it cool on the side.
In the meantime, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, almonds, salt and caster sugar together by hand in a bowl. In the bowl of a KitchenAid Mini stand mixer set with the whisk attachment, add the butter and juice mixture and whisk for a few minutes on medium speed. Reduce the mixer’s speed to low, and add the eggs, yoghurt and vanilla extract. Increase the mixer’s speed to high and whisk until well combined. Stop the stand mixer and add the whisked dry ingredients in one shot. Combine the dry and wet ingredients on low speed for a few seconds, then increase the speed and whisk for a few seconds only till the ingredients are almost combined. Finish folding any stray bits of flour with your spatula before transferring the cake batter evenly between the tins.
Bake the cake layers for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tins for 15 minutes before turning them out and letting the cakes cool completely. Clingfilm the cake layers and refrigerate until the other components of the cake are ready. You can make the cake layers a few days in advance too.
For The Pie Crumbs:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a cookie sheet or Swiss roll tin with baking paper.
In the bowl of a KitchenAid Mini stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar and salt and run on low speed to mix all the dry ingredients well.
With the motor still running, drizzle in the butter and water and let the pie mixture start forming little balls or crumbs.
Tip the crumbs onto the prepared baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake the crumbs until a light golden, breaking them up at least twice during the 15-20 minutes that they take to bake. Take the cookie tray out of the oven and let them dry during which time they will also harden. Once they have cooled completely, transfer to an airtight box and keep sealed till it is time to assemble the cake.
For The Apple Pie Filling
Peel, halve, then quarter the green apples. Core the apple quarters and slice each quarter twice lengthwise, then turn them anticlockwise and chop into dices. Do this for all the apple quarters. Take a bowl of water and squeeze the juice of a lime into the water and dunk the apple dices to prevent oxidisation.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together over a medium flame till it starts to boil. Drain the apples and add them to the syrup. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook the apples till they soften just a bit, but still retain their crunch. Let this mixture cool and any reserved syrup can be stored for another use, such as a glaze for donuts or a syrup to top your next bowl of oats with.
For The buttercream
Heat 150g of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat till the butter starts foaming, bubbling and then finally it should start to settle down and not sound so angry. Look for bits of amber in the white clouds frothing over as the butter continues to cook. If you smell toffee as you take a whiff, take the pan off the heat. The colour of the butter should be amber and it should smell nutty. Give it a swirl and strain the brown butter into a bowl. Let the brown butter cool. You can speed up this process by letting it sit in the freezer for a few minutes. Once the brown butter is soft and solid again, measure the butter again so it’s 350g. You may have to add a wee bit more butter if it isn’t.
Set up a double boiler on your stove (one dish set snugly over a saucepan of gently simmering water so that the dish at no point touches the water below). In the dish set over the saucepan, add the egg whites and sugar and whisk away by hand until the egg white and sugar mixture records 160 F on a candy thermometer. At this point, transfer this mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and let the stand mixer run on medium-speed for about 8 minutes, or until the bowl of the mixer is cool to touch and the meringue reaches stiff peaks. Stop the stand mixer and swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment. Start mixing on a medium-low speed and add the browned butter and butter mixture a tablespoon at a time to the bowl. Once all the butter has been added, add the vanilla, cinnamon and salt and increase the stand mixer’s speed to high and beat until the mixture turns into a billowy, airy and deliciously nutty buttercream.
To assemble the cake, torte the tops of the cakes so as to achieve an even flat surface for layering. Spread a layer of buttercream (about 3 tablespoons per layer) followed by one-third of the pie crumbs and half the apple filling. Sandwich with the second layer and at this stage you could freeze the cake for a bit for the buttercream to hold, or continue layering. Repeat with another layer of buttercream, then the pie crumbs and apple filling and sandwich with the last layer of the cake. Return to the freezer and let everything firm up for a few minutes before continuing. To begin closing the cake, add a fairly large mound of buttercream to the top and work it around the edges and down the sides, adding more buttercream as you go to compact the crumbs of the cake. This thin layer of icing will become your crumb layer. Once you have finished covering the top and sides of the cake with this crumb layer, return to the cake to the freezer for 15 minutes at least or until this crumb coat is set. You can serve it right away at this stage or finish with a final thick coat of icing on the outside. Sprinkle the remaining pie crumbs on the top of the cake and chill until it is time to serve.
Recipe by: Ankiet Gulabani, Blog Name: Belly Over Mind