A friend of mine had a cake similar to this in a diet package she receives every week. I took one look at it and although decorative, to a point, it was tasteless and just didn’t have the taste it should have. Here is my recipe for a cake that encompasses softness, crunch and some good ol’ fashioned flavors that will put a smile on your face. And the kids will love it, too. (At least it’s one way to get the kids to eat their fruit.)
Tangy Whole Apple Cinnamon Cake
I used Honey Crisp apples in this recipe. They are a great balance between sweet, tart and crisp. If you use Macintosh or other soft apple, you won’t need to precook them first. The warm taste of this cake is perfect for any time of year
For the Cinnamon Yogurt Cake:
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/4 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 small apples, cored but not peeled*
Cinnamon-Cocoa Crumb Topping, recipe below
5 cinnamon sticks (optional)
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Place the apples in the microwave and cook for 1-1 1/2 minutes each, or until they are slightly softened. You don’t need to cover them, just make sure they are sitting on a plate. Cook them individually or combine if desired. If you do combine them, of course the cooking time will vary.
Sift the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl with a hand-held mixer (or use a countertop mixer), place butter and sugar in the bowl, beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the oil and continue beating until well incorporated. Add eggs, on at a time, and continue beating until combined. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, in batches, until well mixed, scraping down sides. Do not overmix, if it is a little lumpy, that is fine.
Pour 1/2 of the cake batter into the prepared pan evenly.
Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over the batter, covering the entire surface of the batter. Spoon remaining batter over the swirl mixture and spread it evenly. Top with the remaining swirl mixture, saving some to sprinkle inside of each apple.
Now take 6 cored apples and place them in the batter, evenly spacing but not touching the sides of the pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or simply touch the center. If it bounces back, the cake is done. Remove cake from oven, let cool before slicing out individual servings. Dollop each serving with either whipped cream or ice cream, dunk a cinnamon stick in each if desired and serve.
Cinnamon-Cocoa Crumb Topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Mix well in a bowl.
*If you don’t have an apple corer at home (as I don’t) simple take either a very thin steak knife or the thinnest spoon handle you have and poke it down through around the core on a hard surface. Then poke it out through the other side.
Chef Jim Baley -- The Yankee Chef -- is a noted food columnist, cookbook author and the foremost New England Food Historian. He is a third generation chef and historian and lives in Maine with his wife and four children. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.