And suddenly, it was September. The Professor and I are home this month and we’ve been taking advantage of ‘no travel’ by tidying up our abode – fresh paint on walls, dusting everything in the rooms from floor to ceiling and moving furniture around. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as ‘fall-cleaning’ but if there is, this is what we’ve been doing.
And yet, even with all the paint brushes, stirring-sticks, patching compound and switchplates scattered about, I wanted to be in my kitchen and putz – and Sunday seemed like the perfect day. Roasted chicken, smashed potatoes (I peeled a few extras so I’d have an excuse to make these from Joy The Baker – good golly how can those not be uh-may-zing??!), gravy, french green beans in mustard dijon sauce and an apple cake topped with a bit of whipped cream.
I remember Sunday dinners as a child in the Little House on Ankeny Street – a pot of chili, chicken and noodles, a meatloaf or a pot roast, it didn’t matter what was on the menu, we all had dinner together. My sister and I set the table: blue and white corningware plates, fork placed on the left, white paper napkin folded in half and tucked under a knife and spoon on the right. One of us would make a salad of chopped iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and ready-made croutons; if we were feeling fancy, we’d add a cucumber and radishes. Mom and Dad liked the Italian vinaigrette torn from a package and poured into a cruet with crisco oil and water – shake and serve; my sister, brother and I preferred French or Thousand Island dressing and those bottles, along with the cruet, would be clustered together at the center of the table as were the salt and pepper shakers.
Sometimes we’d have dessert: chocolate or butterscotch pudding or jello cups . . . and on special occasions, cake. Always a box cake, never from scratch, but we loved those layers of moist cake, tender crumb and milk chocolate frosting spread between the layers, then coat the sides and add swirly curly-cues to the top. In the suumer, there might be velvet crumb cake made from the recipe on the Bisquick box and topped with strawberries but cake was something special and we didn’t have it regularly.
Sunday seemed the perfect fall day to wrap myself in an apron, pick some fresh apples from our trees, peel, core and fold chunks into a thick, rich batter; quiet, reflective music played in the background while I cracked eggs, whisked chestnut and almond flours together and poured the mixture into a springform pan.
Nearly an hour later, there was cake.
I first made this cake after seeing Patricia Wells make it on one of the cooking shows many years ago; it is one of my favorite cakes and I was delighted to see Dorie’s version in her book, Around My French Table. Making it gluten and grain-free isn’t difficult and this version is still one of my favorites! And if by some miracle there is a bit of cake leftover, don’t wrap it as it’s too moist – just place a piece of plastic wrap on the cut area and enjoy with a nice cup of coffee or tea for breakfast the next morning – it is apples afterall!
- ¾ cup chestnut flour
- ¾ cup almond flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-1 inch pieces; a variety of apples gives this cake added dimension
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Calvados
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 8 Tablespoons, (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons Calvados
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center
- Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan; line a baking sheet with foil, parchment or a silicone baking mat and place springform pan on it
- Whisk the chestnut and almond flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl; set aside
- Melt butter over medium heat; set aside to cool
- Peel apples, core and cut into chunks – about 1-inch (one of those 8-sectioned an apple slicer/corers makes this an easy task)
- In a medium bowl whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla paste and Calvados until well blended and foamy
- Whisk in half the flour until incorporated; add half of the melted butter and mix well – follow with the rest of the flour and butter mixing gently after each addition
- The batter should be smooth and a little thicker (not stiff) than normal cake batter
- With a rubber spatula, fold in the apple chunks, making sure all the apples are coated
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared springform pan, smoothing the top and distributing the batter evenly in the pan
- Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean – the cake may pull away from the pan
- Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 5-minutes; carefully run a knife around the edges and open the springform slowly before the cake is completely cooled
- Allow to cool to room temperature before serving
- If you’d like, top with a dollop of softly whipped cream