I developed this recipe looking for an easy, fall take on the classic olive oil cake, which is one of my favorite cakes to make. This cake combines classic fall flavors of apples and cornbread into a decadent but not overly sweet treat. My recipe uses apples in two forms, both grated and chopped into pieces. The grated apples melt into the cake while baking, creating a very moist crumb. The chopped apples add that extra burst of apple flavor on occasional bites, which makes the cake fun to eat. I topped this cake with a layer of sugar, which creates a fun, crispy, sweet topping that serves as a great textural element and a built-in frosting. This cake comes together quickly in one bowl, and is the perfect, most satisfying treat for dessert or breakfast.
Recipe adapted from the Orange Cornmeal Cake recipe posted on MarthaStewart.com —Claire Aucella
Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare an 8-inch round cake pan by brushing with a thin layer of olive oil, set aside.
In a large bowl, add the olive oil, eggs, buttermilk, and ½ cup of sugar. Whisk to combine until a homogeneous mixture is formed.
Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, and gently whisk until just combined. Do not overmix, as this would cause the batter to become overworked and the cake to become too tough.
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate one whole apple (working around the core) into large shreds. Add the grated apple to the batter, and fold to combine using a spatula.
Remove the core and stem from the second apple and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add the apple pieces to the batter, and fold to combine using a spatula.
Pour batter out into the prepared cake pan, and smooth the batter to form an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar in an even layer around the entire top of the cake batter.
Put the cake pan in the oven and bake at 375F for 45 minutes. Check that the cake is done by inserting a small knife, cake tester, or tooth pick into the center – if the tester comes out clean with no crumbs, the cake should be ready to take out.
Allow the cake to cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely (about 2 hours) before serving.