Apples have been on my mind lately. More specifically, apples in cakes. And if we're narrowing it down even further, the famous apple cake they sell at IKEA (the gargantuan Swedish furniture and home-goods store), in their cafeteria, has been on my mind. I've tasted this cake maybe three times at most. If you've never tried it, and someday you have the opportunity to do so, you've got to have at least one big bite. It's fantastically good. Fantastically. I wouldn't lie to you about a subject this serious.
Now and then I'd hunted around on the internet trying to zero in on the recipe for that particular cake, but never with much luck. I'd seen a couple of recipes that more or less claimed to be "The IKEA Recipe," but they looked to me like fakers. So you can imagine my cautious glee when I found a promising recipe a few days ago for a Dutch apple cake in sort of a funky looking cookbook that had belonged to my mom. The book is called Heartland Baking from the Midwest's Best Cooks. The recipe had potential, to say the least, and I started laying plans to alter it to fit my purpose as precisely as possible.
Silently I schemed, "Let's see . . . nix all of the lemon zest . . . make the cake in a 10" springform pan instead of a 13" x 9" pan . . . have the crust go up the sides of the pan instead of just on the bottom . . . completely get rid of that topping made with cornflakes (of all things--cornflakes?), and replace it with a nice basic streusel. Decrease the amount of cinnamon in the apple mixture. Hmm . . . there, I think that might do it."
I made the cake today and it couldn't have turned out better. It's not too sweet. Not too dry and not too moist. It slices so cooperatively. If you wanted to, you could add a traditional Scandinavian vanilla sauce to dress it up, though it's perfectly good on its own. It's almost a misnomer to call it a cake . . . it's more accurately the marriage between an apple cake and an apple pie. Such a union would engender just this dessert--I'm sure of it!
So, now that I've effectively given this recipe the Jane's Sweets Seal of Extreme and Undying Approval, I really think you should gather up your baking supplies and go make one. Mmm hmm. Go ahead.
(Just in case you're interested, further details about the recipe's attribution can be found at the end of this post under "Recipe Full Disclosure!"')
Dutch Apple Cake
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10" springform pan with baking spray, or butter the bottom and sides (I opted for the former, because I didn't want to take any chances, but I assume just buttering the pan would work fine too.)
For the crust:
2/3 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached, but I doubt it matters if you use bleached)
For the filling:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 oz. sour cream
Approximately 5 and 1/2 cups sliced, peeled apples (I used a mixture of Honeycrisp, Paula Red, and Golden Delicious)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the streusel topping:
1 cup and 2 Tbsp. All Purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2/3 of a stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
To make the crust:
In a medium mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, mix the butter until soft (about 30 seconds on a medium-high speed). Add the 1/2 cup sugar to the butter and beat until combined. Add all of the flour and beat until the mixture looks crumbly.
Pour the mixture into your prepared springform pan. Press the crumbs to cover the bottom of the pan, and halfway up the sides. Press firmly. (Try to get the thickness fairly even all over, but don't worry if it looks lumpy and rustic; it doesn't have to be as perfect looking as you'd probably want it to be for a cheesecake crust.)
Put the crust into the oven for about 18 minutes, until it becomes slightly golden around the top edge. Remove from the oven and set aside.
To prepare the filling:
In a medium mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the 1/4 cup sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture looks thick and lemon colored. Gently fold in the sour cream.
In a large saucepan, combine the apples with a small amount of water (a cup or so). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the apples, covered, for about 3 minutes just until they're tender. Drain them well and let them cool slightly.
Pour them back into a bowl, or back into the saucepan.
In a small bowl combine the 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Pour this over the apples and stir to coat.
Spread the coated apple slices evenly over the crust. Pour the sour cream mixture evenly over that and spread it with a spatula as needed.
To prepare the streusel topping:
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl; add in the butter with a pastry blender until you see some pea-sized clumps. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the filling.
Bake the cake for about 35 minutes, until the top is quite golden. Let the cake cool completely, on a rack, before you attempt to remove the side of the springform pan. Delicious at room temperature or cold.
Recipe Full Disclosure! In the cookbook mentioned above, the original version of this apple cake recipe appears on page 29 and it's called Trudie's Dutch Apple Cake. It is credited to someone named Trudie Seybold, "owner of the Forest View Gardens restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio." I found the sweetest article about the closing, in 2001, of this very lively German restaurant after over 60 years of operation. It must have been a wonderful place. (The article even has a photo of Trudie and her husband kissing!)
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