Prep 15 mins Bake 40 mins Eat 55 mins
When autumn arrives, so do the apples. This Apple Cinnamon Cake is one of those old-fashioned desserts from my childhood in Minneapolis that I can still remember, though I hadn’t made it for about 20 years or more. My mother found the recipe for me and I knew I needed to make it again after all of these years. When I took the first bite, I was dubious that the memory would deserve to have sat in my brain for so long, but I was not disappointed. The Apple Cinnamon Cake was just as I remembered. I am in awe of the power of the brain to remember taste. Isn’t that kinda crazy?
The beauty of making this Apple Cinnamon Cake is that it couldn’t be easier. Mix everything up, dump it in the aluminum 9 x 13 pan that all of our childhood cakes were baked in. The hardest part is peeling four tart red apples…not really. The reward is a super moist cake brimming with autumn flavors you are going to love. It’s so good – it doesn’t need a frosting – that would be overkill. Just some fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side if you can’t resist.
There are so many varieties of apples in the market now. Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp are a few of my favorites. I recently read a fascinating New Yorker article by John Seabrook about how Honeycrisp apples came to be. The Honeycrisp is considered a perfect eating apple. “When you bite into a Honeycrisp, the cells shatter. The bursting of the cells fill your mouth with juice ” and that’s what makes it so delicious. More delicious than a “Delicious” apple, which I find boring in comparison. I learned from John Seabrook that the Honeycrisp apple was released in 1991 in my hometown at the University of Minnesota and was originally marked for termination in 1982 until David Bedford gave it one more chance. Bedford “released the Honeycrisp thirty-one years after the original cross was made. It brought a new kind of texture to apples; flesh that was crunchy but not hard or dense.” That changed the whole game according to Fred Wilklow who grows Honeycrisp apples at his Wilklow Orchards in New York. Brian Nicholson of New York’s Red Jacket Orchards exclaims that this apple “brings in people who don’t even like apples that much.”
The University of Minnesota earned more than 10 million dollars in royalties from the Honeycrisp! The program at the “U” has released twenty-seven new varieties of apples, including the prized Beacon, Haralson and Prairie Spy. I always wondered why I couldn’t find these apples outside the orchards where I went apple picking every September as a young adult. A little piece of culinary history was blossoming right under my feet and I didn’t even know it.
So this is why you’ll want to make this Apple and Cinnamon Cake during apple season when apples are fresh, crisp and plentiful. Use any tart red apple like the Honeycrisp or Gala or Pink Lady or whatever grows in your region.
The important thing about making any cake is that you must combine the wet ingredients separate from the dry ones and then mix it all together just until incorporated. You don’t want to overmix or your cake will become tough instead of cake-like. The last thing to do is to mix in the apples and the walnuts. Then pour it all into your greased and floured 9 x 13 pan. Bake it until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. The cake will look browned and done before it is completely done, so don’t be tempted to take it out of the oven too early. Serve it simply with some french vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream laced with Amaretto or another liqueur as we did in our Autumn Table cooking class.
Apple Cinnamon Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced (4 large apples)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1.Preheat oven to 350º. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside
2. Prep apples. Peel, core and dice.
3. Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Then add sugar, oil, vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Fold in walnuts and apples. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan and smooth out the top.
4. Bake at 350° for 40-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Do not underbake.
Servings: 24 175 calories per serving
Oven Temperature: 350°F