A few days ago someone asked me of my first memory of my mom from childhood and I had to take a pause. I honestly could not remember. I have so many memories of time spent with my mom as a little girl. How do you decipher which one was your first? So I decided to answer the question, not as it was asked but, instead, how I will always remember my child hood with my mom and, of course, it involved time spent in the kitchen.
I didn’t find out until recently that before my sister or I were born my mom spent a lot of her free time taking cooking classes. She learned how to cook different cuisines from all over the world and even cooked a full-on chinese banquet for friends with everything from home made dumplings (yes the dough was from scratch) to kung pao chicken. I always knew my mom was a good cook but didn’t realize she had some serious skills.
As you get older it’s always fun to find out about your parents before you were born because, turns out, they did some pretty cool things. While I have never had the chance of experiencing my mom’s amazing chinese cooking skills, I will always remember the time I spent in the kitchen baking with her.
Until recently I never really did much baking on my own, but a few months ago I got bitten by the baking bug and have since whipped up many a treat. Maybe it was because I wanted a new challenge or maybe it was because I am baking a fun little treat of my own . . . in July I become a mom. I have heard that nothing prepares you for becoming a parent and my husband and I are preparing ourselves to have our world rocked but we are equally excited for what promises to be one crazy ride.
So I break my blogging silence for you today with one of the most favorite things I have baked in the past 6 plus months . . . a French Apple Cake. Cakes are definitely not my baking speciality and especially not ones that require a spring form pan but it sounded so delicious in my Cook’s Illustrated that I couldn’t resist. I know apple season is almost totally behind us but hopefully you can still find some granny smith apples in your grocery store to try this recipe out. It will not disappoint!
French Apple Cake
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
Serves 8 to 10
1 1/2 lb Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 in thick crosswise
1 tbsp Calvados (French apple brandy)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray and place on an aluminum foil wrapped rimmed baking sheet.
Place apple slices into a microwave safe pie plate, cover with paper plate and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apples with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
Whisk 1 cup of flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Whisk one egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in a second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup of batter to separate bowl and set aside.
Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
Whisk remaining 2 tbsp of flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tbsp granulated sugar evenly over cake.
Bake until center of cake is set – a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean and the top is golden brown – 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a paring knife around side of pan and let cool completely, about 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve.