Bake a fresh French Apple Pie

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, September 23, 2017

I have found a recipe that could be better than apple pie. A French apple cake. I have been reading Christopher Kimball’s ‘Milk Street Magazine’ for several months now, and he now has his own show on PBS, so I will be happy to be able to see it this Saturday on our PBS station. I love the way he describes the ups and downs of recipes and what does and does not work. Since he does it for you, the recipe you get is pretty much tested.

This French apple cake is a last-minute dessert that can be thrown together pretty much without a recipe but of course we have a recipe. The beauty is we don’t have to roll out a crust as for a pie and not cutting the butter into pea-sized pieces.

The secret of this tasty recipe is the browning of the butter and caramelized apples. The varieties of the apples here are a combination of tart and sweet. This cake is a cross between apple pie, tarte tatin and apple cake. It is delicious served plain but it would be great with crème fraiche or ice cream.

So treat your family this easy dessert!


French Apple Cake

Start to finish: 1 hour (25 active) plus cooling

Serves 8

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, plus more for pan

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 pound Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices

12 tablespoons white sugar, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons Brandy or Calvados

2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with butter, dust with flour, then tap out the excess.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Pour into a small heatproof bowl; don’t scrape the skillet. Stir allspice into the butter. Set aside.

Add all the apples, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt to the still hot skillet and set over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the moisture released by the apples has evaporated and the slices are beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the brandy and cook until evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to a large plate, spread in an even layer and refrigerate uncovered until cool to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla and nine tablespoons of the sugar; gradually whisk in the butter. Add the flour mixture and stir until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoons of sugar.

Bake until deeply browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.