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Old Fashioned Apple Spice Cake

January 19, 2010

This cake knocked my socks off, literally.  Well, almost.  I’m not a meringue fan, but I was intrigued by the recipe’s description of a pudding-like layer that forms between this moist cake chock-full of apples, and a meringue top.  The meringue is dense from the brown sugar, so it’s more like a good crunchy, crackly frosting than a true meringue, and the cake is nice and spicy and moist underneath.  I don’t have  a picture because it was eaten before I could take one, so I’ll refer you over here to see what it looks like.  It’s kind of a hidden gem because you can’t sense all the goodness under the meringue.  One thing to note, though, I took mine out before it baked through in the center (still delicious, though).  I didn’t use a toothpick in the center because I didn’t want to mar the pretty top,  but you could use a cake tester to see if it’s done.  Or, jiggle the cake a little to see how much the meringue top moves- if it’s jiggling a lot, it probably needs more time.  This recipe, from Food 52, says it serves 6-8, but  I could have fed 12 people because it’s so rich you just need a small square.

Ingredients:

For the Meringue:

2 large egg whites

1 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar

2 T water

For the Cake:

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 c firmly packed brown sugar

2 large egg yolks

2 c spooned and leveled all-purpose flour

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground cloves

2 large, meaty apples, cored and grated on the large holes of a box grater

1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Directions:

Position a rack in the middle level of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″x9″ baking pan (or you can use a 9″ round cake pan, but make sure it has high sides, because it rises quite a bit).

To make the meringue, place the egg whites, brown sugar and water in the top of a double boiler. Put enough water in the bottom of the double boiler to touch the bottom of the top pot (this helps the sugar melt).  Be sure you don’t let the egg whites sit over the heat without being beaten, otherwise they might cook.  Over high heat, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

For the cake, beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy; add egg yolks and blend well.  By hand, stir in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, grated apples, walnuts and raisins.  Fold in the flour, blending well but being careful to not over mix.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Spread meringue evenly over the batter. Bake until top is crisp, about 45 minutes. If you serve it while warm, the meringue will crack when you cut it, but that’s fine.  If you want nice, neat uniform slices, serve the cake the next day.

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