Monday, May 24, 2010

Apple and Poppy Seed Cake

Growing up, I wasn't exactly the sporty type. While my older sister donned her cheerleading uniforms and field hockey kilts, I was more likely to be found on stage or at theater camp.

Yes, theater camp. For 3 summers. I'll just wait here while you all laugh.

All set? Good.

While I wasn't ever on the playing field, I did attend many of my sister's games, and tried to be as enthusiastic as one can be about something that doesn't really matter to them, but matters to someone close to them. Plus, I was 12 and went where I was told.

I bring this up now not to bemoan my sad lack of hand-eye coordination, but because Dan just joined a softball league and their first game is tonight. He's been talking about it for weeks, attending practices, and leaving his disgusting well-worn glove and shoes laying around, I think as a sign of pride. He's made mention a few times of me coming to his games, and I've hesitantly agreed knowing that I'll probably have to go right after work and likely won't have anyone to complaint to sit with.

Nevertheless, I am a supportive girlfriend, so when we were talking about it last week, I offered up this little gem:

Dan: I'm really looking forward to Monday night. Do you think you're going to come?
Me: Yeah, I'll be there. I can haggle the other team!
Dan: ... Heckle?
Me: *Hangs head in shame*

You see? I can't even get the sports lingo right. I think he may be rethinking his request that I attend. Or perhaps he'll just pretend he doesn't know me. Which is why it is important to bribe him with baked goods. Like Apple cake.

This was actually one of the first recipes I wanted to try when I started this book. I think it was during the phase when I thought I had lost my whisk attachment though, so I put it off and put it off. And considering how it turned out, I'm sort of happy I didn't make it in the beginning.


a tangy apple, lemon, almond flour, plain flour, salt, poppy seeds, butter (in a bowl because I left it on the hot oven and it started to melt), powdered sugar, egg, caster sugar

To begin, I preheated the oven and prepared a loaf tin by buttering it and lining it with parchment paper. I peeled the apple and grated it on a box grater. I put the apple in a bowl with some lemon zest and juice so it wouldn't brown and set it aside.

Into another bowl, I sifted the plain flour with a pinch of salt and the almond flour which I found in the natural food section of the grocery store.

The almond flour was not very fine which made it a challenge to sift. I resorted to pressing it through the sieve with a spoon, and when I couldn't stand that any more, I just dumped the rest in. I added the poppy seeds to the sifted flour and mixed it together.

I set this aside, and in another bowl, creamed the butter with powdered sugar. Once it was pale and thick, I added an egg yolk and mixed to combine.

Since I only have one bowl for my stand mixer, I transferred this mixture to another large bowl and washed it out so I could use it to whisk an egg white with some caster sugar. I did my best to be patient, and let the egg white whisk until it reached stiff peaks. When I whisked egg whites for the Sachertorte, they were very foamy as there wasn't a lot of sugar in them. For this cake, there was a larger proportion of sugar to egg white, so the mixture became more like meringue: smooth and shiny.

Amazing the difference a little sugar can make

Now it was time to incorporate everything together. I added half the egg white mixture to the butter mixture and folded to incorporate, followed by half the flour mixture. I repeated the process until all the egg and flour was combined.

The last thing I folded in was the apple and lemon, which made the mixture a little wet, but it was still nice and light.

I poured the batter into the loaf pan. There is a note in the recipe cautioning against filling the loaf pan too much since the finished cake should not be more than 2 inches high. I didn't have a problem with that though as the mixture filled the loaf pan just about halfway.

I put the cake in the oven and baked it for 30 minutes. When I tested it, a toothpick came out clean, but the top of the cake was very light in color, not the golden brown it should have been. I left it for another 15 minutes, by which time the edges were turning a medium brown and the top was a little more set, but still very pale. I didn't want to over bake it, so I took it out and left it in the loaf pan to cool.

After a while, I went to check on how the cake was cooling, and found that it had shrunk! Or maybe I should say that it sunk. It was about half as tall as it had been when I removed it from the oven, which meant it was only about 1 inch high. Poor little cake.

I took the cake out of the pan and sprinkled the top with more powdered sugar. I really wanted to taste it but wasn't sure how to cut it. A loaf should really be cut into slices, but the cake was so thin! It really could be cut into squares, like brownies. I went with the slices anyway though since I only wanted a small taste.

Here was my problem with this cake: too much poppy, not enough cake. I'm not sure if I didn't bake it long enough or what, but I just didn't like the taste or texture of this. It was very crumbly and tart from the apple, which was OK, but I think I was expecting/hoping for more of a lemon poppy seed muffin type of thing. And this was not it. It wasn't sweet enough for me and left me picking seeds out of my teeth. It's rare that I just don't like something I've made, which is why I was thankful that I had waited a while to make this. Had I made it when I first picked up the book, I think it would have left me second guessing that any of the recipes would be good, and so many of them are.

Oh well, I'll guess I'll have to bring something else to Dan's game. Maybe a big sparkly sign, something like: "Softball: Not just for girls anymore!" Think he'll like it?

Next Indulgence: Old-Fashioned Eccles Cakes

1 comment:

  1. HAHAHAHA The first 7 paragraphs of this entry were hysterical! I read them to chance but he was (as expected) unable to see the humor in them...It probably didn't help that I was laughing so hard my eyes were tearing up and I couldn't explain to him why I found it so funny.

    Loved the post!

    The cake looks kind of intense. Especially before you covered it in powdered sugar. And even though I don't think I will be trying this recipe since you didn't seem to enjoy it that much, I do plan on rereading this post whenever I need to smile.


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