Sunken Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)

A long time ago I had a piece of sunken apple cake and have thought about it ever since. Then a baby (now toddler) came along and time for baking went a bit by the wayside. It’s a rainy September evening, the toddler is asleep, and I had the ingredients on hand, so no time like the present!

The Kitchn and Smitten Kitchen are two very reliable sources for recipes, but one of my quibbles is they don’t do baking recipes by weight or in metric, only volume. *first world sigh* Sally’s Baking Addiction shows conversions (yay!) but she doesn’t have an Versunkener Apfelkuchen recipe, so. Here I am to the rescue! I made the cake pretty much exactly to the Kitchn letter, although I reduced the flour ever so slightly per Smitten Kitchen‘s recommendation. It turned out fantastically and will make for an excellent breakfast tomorrow (if it lasts that long).

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium apples, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 of a lemon (zested and juiced)
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 130 g room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) fine sea salt
  • 1-2 TB (15-30 ml) demerara sugar (also called sugar in the raw)

Instructions:

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F/177ºC. Line the bottom of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Thinly slice each quarter lengthwise without cutting all the way through to the core side, leaving the quarter hinged together. Put the zest of the lemon into a large bowl and set aside; save the lemon juice.

Place the sugar and butter in the bowl with the lemon zest and beat (a stand mixer or hand mixer is your friend) until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides; add the vanilla extract and 1 of the eggs. Beat until combined before adding the second egg. Beat until combined and then add the third egg. Scrape down the sides. Beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture until just combined, and beat in the juice from the reserved lemon half. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and give the batter one last mix by hand.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently press the apple quarters into the batter, core-side down, leaving only a bit of space between each quarter. If you have any apple left over, break off slices and insert them into any open space available. Sprinkle the top evenly with the demerara sugar.

Bake, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the cake is golden-brown and a tester inserted into the cake (not apple) comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Place the pan on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge and removing the springform ring. Let cool to room temperature.

Serve with whipped cream or eat furtively in the kitchen and hope no one notices the large slice missing.

 

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Honey Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Another week, another bread recipe. This is my current bread star, because after wrapping my head around artisanal loaves I wanted to make “regular” bread for the sandwich lover in the house. Joel goes through about one loaf a week for toast and sandwiches. This recipe, adapted from King Arthur Flour fits the bill; it’s soft, fluffy and makes great toast. It’s also hella easy and makes two loaves: one to eat and one to freeze. I’ve made it several times to adjust the flavors and to make sure my metric conversions were accurate. It’s considerably less sweet than the original recipe, which in my opinion makes it a bit more all-purpose. The instructions are also slightly different because I don’t use a bread machine/Kitchen Aid nor do I have much patience for kneading. The stretch and fold (envelope) method works just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 450 ml boiling water (or 410 boiling + 40 ml tepid water to dissolve fresh yeast)
  • 100 g rolled oats
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 10 g honey
  • 45 g sunflower oil or 56 g melted butter
  • 15 g salt
  • 180 g whole wheat flour
  • 470 g white flour
  • 1 cake fresh yeast or 9.5 g instant yeast

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the boiling water, oats, maple, brown sugar, honey, oil or butter, and salt. Let cool to lukewarm, about 10 to 15 minutes.

If using fresh yeast, dissolve in tepid water and then mix in with the oatmeal (or sift instant yeast with the flours). Add the flours to the oatmeal mix, stir until a rough dough forms and there’s no loose flour, then pat into a ball. Cover with cling film and let rest for 20 minutes. Tip the dough out onto an oiled surface and give it 8 envelope folds, form it into a ball and drop it seam side down into the bowl. Cover and let rise 30 minutes, tip out the dough give it 8 more folds. Return the dough ball to the bowl and allow to rise 30 more minutes. The dough should become quite puffy since it’s warm.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ (900 g) bread pans. Cover the pans with cling film and allow the loaves to rise until they’ve crowned about 2 cm over the rim of the pan, about 60 to 90 minutes.

Bake the loaves on the middle rack in a preheated 177ºC/350°F oven (bottom element only) for about 40 minutes. Remove them from the oven when they’re golden brown. Turn the loaves out onto a rack to cool. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Yield:  2 sandwich loaves, 32 slices total, 104 calories per slice.

Scoda Bread

Not quite traditional soda bread, not quite a scone. You can make one big loaf  to share or cut out individual biscuits. Scone + soda = scoda! Pretty clever, huh? Okay, maybe not, but tasty nonetheless!

This is a bit of a kitchen-sink recipe, meaning as long as you follow the basic ingredients, you can add whatever sweet or savoury ingredients that you like.

Finished scoda bread

Gruyère and chives, you say?

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour*
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-3 tsp sugar**
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 125 ml (one pot) natural greek yoghurt
  • 125 ml milk
  • up to 1 cup of add-ins***

* You can substitute up to one cup of whole wheat flour or oatmeal (that’s been ground up in a food processor) for regular white flour.
** Less sugar for savoury bread, more sugar for sweet bread, you get the picture.
*** The sky’s the limit! Cheddar and chives, raisins and walnuts, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, apricots, fresh rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, it’s up to you.

Pre-heat oven to 215ºC/420ºF. Grease  a round baking pan (or a cast-iron skillet if you have one, you lucky so-and-so) with butter or olive oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda and any other dry ingredients you may be using, such as cinnamon or herbs.

Add the cold butter and, using your fingers, quickly break the butter down into the dry ingredients.  Some bits of butter will be the size of small peas, others the size of oat flakes. Stir in your chunky add-ins at this point, such as chives, cubes of cheese, raisins, dried fruit, etc.

In a small bowl, beat together yoghurt and milk.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, working to moisten every bit of flour with the milk mixture.  Dump mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 4 to 8 times until the dough comes together into a loose ball.  If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.  The dough should be moist but still shaggy. The dough won’t be smooth, which is fine, that’s better than over-kneading the dough.

Scoda bread dough

All ready for the oven!

Transfer dough to prepared pan.  Use a serrated knife to mark an inch deep X into the dough.  Place in the oven and allow to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden color and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If you tap the bread it will make a hollow thudding sound when it’s finished.

If you prefer scones instead of one loaf of bread, pat the kneaded ball of dough into a round about 3/4″ thick and cut it into wedges or circles using a pastry cutter. Bake the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper – they will be finished baking after about 20 minutes.

Quick breads like this are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, so serve warm with a bit of butter or a nice bowl of soup!

Adapted from Simply Recipes.

Servings: Eight.  240 calories (without calorific add-ins like cheese.)