I have a two-piece aluminum tube pan for over ten years yet I only used it twice before yesterday. It sits quietly in my cabinet holding all sorts of baking accessories like stacks of silicone muffin liners and small tart pans. In fact, I fear using that pan so much that any recipe calling for tube pan gets the automatic “oh that’s nice but I’ll pass” treatment. Needless to say, angel food cake is not a dessert I crave.
Yesterday I was stuck at home waiting for a parcel delivery. The house was cold and I had the brilliant idea of firing up the oven for something that needs a long time to bake. With six gala apples staring at me from the kitchen counter, the answer was clear. Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook has an updated recipe for Mom’s Apple Cake. The recipe uses exactly six apples and it is an oil-based cake easily thrown together with just a whisk and a mixing bowl. Best of all, it spends a lengthy 90 minutes in the oven!
The only problem? The recipe was written for 10-inch tube pan. I hesitated. And then hesitated some more. The mere thought of greasing my unloved tube pan only to have the batter leak out of the two-piece construction made me cringe. What if I line the pan with parchment paper? I got out my scissors and started cutting. It was surprisingly easy. A circle with the center cut out like a doughnut, a large square to tightly wrap around the tube, and two long rectangular pieces to line the sides were all that I needed. My pan was ready for the heavy batter of this apple cake.
Perelman’s recipe uses vegetable oil exclusively because it is her Jewish family recipe for the holidays. Since I am neither Jewish nor celebrating any specific holidays, I took the liberty to use a mix of grapeseed oil and melted butter. What a gorgeous tight crumb and buttery taste! In addition to the ground cinnamon tossed with diced apples, I whisked in 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom to the cake batter just because I love cardamom.
The cake is moist as expected. What I love the most is the bronzed and caramelized apple pieces covering the top of the cake. It’s a tempting combination of sweet and tart which reminds me of apple pie…except this is cake. The thick batter rose to majestic height despite the weight of six apples. The cake looks so stately sitting on a pedestal cake stand it’s easy to forget how ridiculously simple the recipe really is. Oh it’s so much easier than pie!
I am very happy to discover this wonderful recipe and reacquaint with my tube pan. There is a cream cheese-filled coffee cake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated that I’ve been eyeing for a few months. Obviously it calls for baking in a tube pan and now I have no excuse to bypass the treat anymore. There is nothing quite like discovering an old neglected piece from the past and finding new life all over again!