This is what popped into my head when the contest was announced. Unfortunately I'm not a cake girl. Enter Shirley Corriher's CookWise (a well timed Christmas present). After three tries, some very wise caramel advice from hardlikearmour (thank you, friend!!), I think I've created my first cake. —gingerroot
For Apple, Walnut, Sage & Caramel
crisp, sweet, slightly tart apple, such as a Braeburn
sage leaves, washed and dried (approx. 2 inch)
squeeze of lemon
salted butter, at room temperature
unsalted butter for greasing the pan
For the Cake
1 1/4 teaspoons
stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
large eggs, at room temperature
large egg white, at room temperature
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a parchment round and butter the top of the paper.
Halve and core the apple. Cut apple into 1/4 inch slices, as uniform as possible. Lay apple slices in your prepared pan, slightly overlapping. Arrange last pieces as desired in center.
In a mini-prep processor, pulse 2 T of walnuts and sage leaves until walnuts are a mixture of fine pieces with chunks, and the sage is finely chopped. Add remaining walnuts and pulse a few more times. You want the walnuts to be varied in texture. Spoon walnut sage mixture over apples.
Make caramel by putting water and squeeze of lemon (1/4 t) into saucepan. Mound sugar in the middle. Cover and bring mixture to a boil, swirling pan occasionally. Once sugar dissolves, mixture will bubble vigorously. After about 10 minutes, mixture should be fragrant and amber. Remove from heat and whisk in salted butter, 1 T at a time (be careful, mixture will be bubbling!). Carefully pour caramel over prepared apples. Allow to cool.
In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk cake flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Combine milk, crème fraiche and vanilla in a small bowl (I used my one cup measure). Set aside.
Using a hand mixer, cream butter for 3 minutes, scraping down sides with spatula as necessary. Add sugar all at once and continue to mix and scrape, for another 3 minutes. Add whole eggs, one at a time, mixing in between. Continue to mix and scrape for another minute.
Alternating between the flour mixture and the milk mixture, add to batter in three additions, mixing on low after each. Be careful to only mix until blended - do not over mix.
With clean beaters, whip egg white until you have soft peaks. Fold into batter in two additions. Pour batter into cake pan, smoothing evenly with a spatula. Bake until fragrant, golden brown and when poked with a tester it comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Allow cake to cool before inverting onto a serving plate. Enjoy!
Note: Cake may be made one day ahead and stored in an airtight container.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.