Gina De Palma is the ex pastry chef of iconic New York restaurant Babbo and the author of a fabulous blog. Gina says this apple cake is one of her all time favourites, hence the name, and that’s high praise from someone whose profession is all things sugary. Apparently the recipe is one that Gina’s mother found many years ago in a magazine and it instantly became a family favourite. This cake not only looks impressive with its tall sides and caramelised apple topping but it can feed a very large group of people. We served this at Easter for morning tea and after serving up 10 slices there was still half a cake leftover – yay! This is not an overly sweet cake which makes it a good choice for morning or afternoon tea, but it would also be fabulous for dessert with maybe the addition of a warm caramel sauce or a creme anglaise. Best thing of all is how easy this cake is to pull together – just one bowl and no heavy machinery in the form of mixers required. I would note though that you really do need to use an angel cake tin for this recipe, you need something with very tall sides (there’s a lot of batter) and for the caramelised apples to be visible on top of the cake which can’t be achieved with a bundt tin or any other tin that requires the cake to be inverted. Happy baking!
Ingredients – Serves at least 12 people generously (leftovers keep well) Adapted from Gina De Palma
5 large or 8 small apples, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
2¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 160C (I used fan-force and would recommend you increase the temperature to 170C if you are not). Peel and slice apples and put them in a large bowl. Combine ¼ cup of the sugar with the cinnamon and stir well. Toss the apples with 3 tablespoons of this cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat them well, and set aside both the apples and the rest of the cinnamon-sugar.
Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a very large bowl, then whisk in the rest of the sugar until all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Using a stiff whisk, stir the two mixtures together until you have a smooth batter; you’ll find it easier to start with a whisk and end with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed dry ingredients.
Spray an angel food cake (tube) pan very well with non-stick vegetable spray (I also floured the tin). Add half of the batter to the pan, using a spatula to evenly spread it. Distribute half of the apples over the batter evenly, and sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Layer the remaining batter on top of the apples, smoothing it with the spatula, then top with the remaining apples and the last of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Bake the cake on the center rack for 1-1½ hours, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted through the cake comes out clean, with no traces of wet batter. As per the comments below some people have noted that it takes longer to bake than 1½ hours and if you do need to cook it for longer keep a close eye on the top apple layer to ensure they don’t burn, if they are darkening too much cover the tin loosely with foil. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan, then slide out the cake with the tube. Let the cake cool completely on a rack for 2 hours. The cake is best served the next day if possible.