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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Baked oatmeal

baked oatmeal finished product

Brunch brunch brunch, I love brunch. You can totally have brunch at any time of year, but to me March is the “start” of brunch season. It’s nearly spring and you can convince people to leave their house on a Sunday morning (ok, early afternoon) and join in on the celebration of longer days and fresh springtime food.

My mother made a baked oatmeal similar to this at Christmastime, and it was fabulous. Strawberries are back in season so I decided to try the recipe with a spring-y twist, and I was not disappointed. I think this baked oatmeal is so good because it’s like pancakes, porridge and cake had a delicious love child.

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

baked oatmeal ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 ml) rolled or steel-cut oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) nuts (walnuts, almonds, mixed nuts & seeds, etc.) chopped up
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml or 4 TB) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple extract (if you don’t have maple just use 2 tsp vanilla)
  • 2-3 bananas cut into slices about 1 cm thick
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries (or other seasonal berries)
  • butter/oil for greasing the pan

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF  with rack in top half of oven. Generously butter a square glass or ceramic baking pan.

In a bowl mix together oats, half the nuts, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla/maple.

Arrange bananas in a single layer in bottom of prepared dish. Arrange half of berries over top. Cover fruit with oat mixture. Slowly drizzle milk mixture over oats. Gently give baking dish a few thwacks on the counter to make sure milk moves through oats. Scatter remaining berries and walnuts on top just before putting into oven.*

Bake 30-45 minutes until top is golden and oats have set. Remove from oven and let it cool for a few minutes.  Drizzle with melted butter if you like, and serve with brown sugar or syrup.

*This recipe is perfect for making a day ahead. After pouring milk mixture over oats cover the baking dish with plastic film and refrigerate. You’ll see that the oats soak up all the milk, it’s glorious. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries on top just before baking.

Servings: Six generous servings. 265 calories.

Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson via Epicurious.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes & Earl Grey Syrup

Do you detect a theme? Pound cake, pancakes – I bought a kilo of lemons and a big bag of poppy seeds, you’ve got to use them up somehow! These pancakes are pretty straight forward. I adapted them from this recipe, cutting it in half and making some minor substitutions. It’s the perfect brunch recipe. The pancakes are delish but a big gold star goes to the pancake syrup. I thought a subtle Earl Grey flavour would go wonderfully with lemon-infused pancakes, and indeed it made a for a delightful pairing.

For some reason the cat was at the table begging while we were eating the pancakes, we had to explain to him that cats don’t eat pancakes. I don’t think he believed us.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB lemon zest
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 125 ml (one pot) natural yogurt
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TB sunflower oil
  • 1 TB poppy seeds
  • butter or sunflower oil for frying
  • Optional: 1 cup fresh or defrosted berries – if you use the berries increase flour by 1 TB
  • Earl Grey maple syrup*

Instructions:

In a mortar or small heavy bowl combine sugar and lemon zest.  Use the pestle (or a spoon) to grind the sugar and lemon zest together until sugar is fragrant.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the lemon sugar.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice and sunflower oil.  Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine, don’t worry if the batter has a few lumps. (If you’re adding berries gently fold them in at this point.) Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Place a griddle or a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add a bit of butter or sunflower oil to the pan. Dollop batter (about 1/3 cup) onto hot griddle/pan.  Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top.  Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.

Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 70ºC/160ºF) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve.  Serve with butter and warm Earl Grey maple syrup.

*Earl Grey maple syrup: Steep a bag of Earl Grey tea in 3/4 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the tea is very strong. Then, in a small sauce pan add the tea, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar and 1 TB butter. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over!) for 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in 1 tsp of maple extract. If you can’t find maple extract vanilla extract works nicely as well. Serve warm – syrup will also keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.

Servings: Two (4 five-inch pancakes per serving). 442 calories per serving.