Saturday, 3 October 2009
Autumn has finally hit Japan! It psyched me out a few times but it's finally here. After an unusually long Spring rainy season, Summer came very late this year, this in turn meant that a mere week ago I was still using a fan at night and cursing the skies every time I had to make the trek to school schlepping my laptop and books. However, at the beginning of this week the heavens opened and sent forth the rain, and it's only stopped for little breathers since.
I love the rain, maybe it's because it reminds me home, maybe it's because it signals an end to the horror of Japanese summer (I'm British! I'm just not designed to withstand the heat!). I love sitting in my apartment listening to it hit roof, I love watching lightening (though we haven't had any yet this season), and I love walking home under my umbrella instead of under the harsh beating of an unforgiving sun. I don't love the fact that my gaijin ('foreigner') proportions means I have no rain shoes, but you can't have everything in life.
This year particularly I've loved that the loss of extreme heat and humidity in my kitchen means that I can start spending more time in there. Walking home from school the other day I arrived home a little chilled and with wet feet and remembered this recipe I'd seen the previous weekend. A perfect autumn recipe, my whole house kept that sweet baked apple smell long after the cake came out. Even better, because there's so much apple in it, making the cake very moist, it can be baked in the convection oven with far less problems than the light and airy recipes I've attempted and failed with before.
This came from Kosher Camembert and actually required very little by way of modification.
For the apples:
4 apples (1 each of Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Crispin)
lemon juice to prevent apples from browning as you cut
2 tbsp margarine (or butter if you are making dairy)
1-2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
For the cake batter:
125g (1 cup) flour
190g (3/4 cup) sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) canola oil
5g (1 tsp) baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2-3 T demerara (coarse grained) sugar (optional)
My apples were a little on the large side so I only used 3. I have no idea what type they were as my expertise stops at 'red', 'granny smith', or 'golden delicious'. My apples were red, and a quick gander at the packaging tell me they were from Tsugaru, the western region of Aomori Prefecture, but beyond that I couldn't tell you. They were quite sweet.
I used butter to cook the apples instead of margarine because I didn't have to worry about the recipe being kosher.
1) Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. I did mine to 170C, then turned it down to 160 once the top had browned as I'm still experimenting with converting temperatures while baking when it comes to my convection oven. Grease your cake pan.
2) Peel and core the apples, then cut into slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice (you don’t need much – maybe a tablespoon or so) while the others are being sliced to prevent browning.
3) Heat margarine in pan over low heat and add apples and the 1-2 tbsp white sugar. Stir, ad allow to cook for about 10-15 minutes until apples soften. Some of the liquid will soak into the apples, but if too much of it starts to evaporate, then turn the heat down.
4) While the apples are on the stove top, mix together the remaining ingredients (except for the demerara sugar) — flour, 190g sugar, eggs, oil, baking powder, and vanilla - in a bowl.
(I added to flour to this after mixing these together, to make it easier to mix smoothly)
5) Add half the warm apples (juices and all) to the batter and mix.
6) Pour the mixture into your prepared pan, and arrange the remaining apple slices any way you like on top.
7) If using the sugar on top then sprinkle the cake pan with sugar, bake for 1 hour.
Ideally this should have been a little less brown on top, but I've so many instances where I've thought a cake is done and ended up with a raw bottom/centre because the convection oven hates full sized cakes, that I erred on the side of caution. There are enough apples in this that it stayed nice and moist inside, so the usual problem of overcooked cakes being dry wasn't an issue.
The cake can be a little difficult to move because the amount of fruit in it makes it prone to breaking apart, so wait a little for it cool before trying to take it out of the pan.