Sunday, October 1
This is the perfect fall cake. The color of the buckwheat-flecked cake, and the shiny and jewel-like apples are both beautiful and delicious. The cake is moist and rich, with butter, almonds, and egg yolks, and just a touch of buckwheat flour to hold it together, then lightened up with the addition of egg whites, beaten with sugar until they look like fluffy meringue.
The apples are poached in a mixture of cider and a few simple spices, which smell heavenly while they are soaking up the juice that will turn them almost transparent, and flavor them with subtle notes of clove and cinnamon. I love desserts which provide texture or contrast, and this one does just that. I couldn't decide which I liked better; taking a bite of cake, followed by a bit of apple, or if I preferred to combine the two in one bite. You'll have to make that choice yourself.
The cake would also be incredible with any number of other fruits or fruit syrups. Blood oranges, plums, and apricots come to mind. And this recipe once again comes from the incredible David Lebovitz, whose desserts are perfection in my book.
Buckwheat Cake with Cider Poached Apples
From Ripe for Dessert, by David Lebovitz
For the Buckwheat Cake:
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
½ cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
12 Tbsps unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
6 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cream of tarter, (optional)
For the Apples:
3 cups apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
½ cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
2 - 3 firm apples (Granny Smith or Golden Delicious)
powdered sugar, for dusting
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
To make the buckwheat cake: In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the buckwheat flour and baking powder until the almonds are finely ground.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until very light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes if using a mixer. Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolks one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a separate glass or metal bowl, whip the egg whites until they become frothy. Add the salt and the cream of tartar, if using, and continue to whip until the whites begin to hold their shape. Gradually whip in the 6 tablespoons of sugar and keep whipping until the whites form soft, shiny peaks.
Blend the almond and buckwheat mixture into the creamed butter and egg yolk mixture with a rubber spatula. Stir about a third of the beaten egg whites into the batter. It will be thick, but this will lighten it up. Then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until just incorporated. Don't overfold!
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, smooth the top and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
To poach the apples: Warm the cider, sugar and spices in a medium saucepan. Peel the apples with a vegetable peeler and use a 1/2 inch melon baller to make the apple balls.
Drop the apple balls into the cider mixture and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until tender.
The apples definitely take longer than 10 minutes - I probably cooked mine for 40 and then reduced the liquid even further. I didn't have a melon baller, so I just made large chunks.