This recipe was born from a 3-tupperware overstock of apple pie filling (bestowed upon me by the Bon Appetit test kitchen after our Thanksgiving cooking marathon for Sandy victims in the Rockaways). I accepted the fruit, torn between reluctance to bake a pie and gratitude that I now had an answer to the question of what I was going to bring to Thanksgiving. As I began considering recipes, I tasted a few slices and realized that apples with brown sugar, a bit of flour and lemon juice held much more potential than being baked in a regular-ol pie. Then I opened my e-mail inbox and found my answer: FOOD52's recipe for a Genius Apple Cake. Bingo. But I wasn't content with Genius alone. Instead I went more Boozy-Mad-Scientist with this guy. Grabbed some bourbon, perfumed it with one of my favorite baking spices -- cardamom, and tasted as I went to make sure the sugar ratios were just right (since my apples were already sugared). Baking typically doesn't lend itself to winging-it, and honestly, I had no idea if it would even turn out. For the next hour-plus I held my breath, but as it rose in the tube pan I rigged with a shot glass, I knew that I'd at least have a looker of a dessert, even if it didn't wow the palate. Turns out, it was a damn tasty crowd pleaser -- not too sweet, a hint of bourbon threaded throughout -- the perfect pillow for a dollop of ice cream. And it was even better the next day for breakfast.
BOURBON-CARDAMOM APPLE CAKE
[Inspired by Teddie's Apple Cake]
2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups safflower or vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup chopped, roasted almonds, or walnuts(optional)
3 cups peeled, cored, thickly sliced apples*
A drizzle or two of honey
Powdered sugar, for dusting
*My apples were already mixed with brown sugar, flour and lemon juice, then I added a drizzle honey and more brown sugar to taste as I mixed the batter. If you are starting from scratch, I recommend peeling, slicing and mixing your apples with brown sugar and lemon juice, and allowing to sit for at least several hours to the natural sugars and juices of the fruit can collect. It'll yield a naturally sweeter cake.
1. Heat oven to 350 dg F. Grease a 9-inch baking pan (or tube pan if you have one).
2. Sift together flours, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda. In a separate bowl whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla and bourbon. Stir in dry ingredients gradually. Fold in apples and almonds, stirring until well-combined.
3. Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature. Delicious a la mode.