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My favorite apple cake

Posted by Sheryl Julian  September 28, 2010 02:37 PM

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If guests are coming, if I'm going somewhere and need to bring dessert, if I just feel like baking, this is the cake I make in the fall. It comes from Julie Riven, with whom I wrote the Globe magazine food column for many years, and then a cookbook. Her mother made it.

What is special about this cake is its remarkably moist texture, from oil and orange juice. When you layer the batter with four apples (Julie and I both use Cortlands), you wonder if there's enough batter to hold the apples together. But there is. The cake tastes delicious, it's easy to put together, it keeps well, and it's high in the pan. Head to the kitchen.

Julie's mother's apple cake

Makes 1 large cake

Butter (for the pan)

Flour (for the pan)

1 cup canola oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 baking apples (Cortland, Baldwin, Mutsu, Northern Spy, Opalescent, Rhode Island Greening, Rome Beauty, Spigold), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan, line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit it, and butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In an electric mixer, combine the oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

3. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat just until smooth again, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

4. Spoon one-third of the batter into the pan (barely a layer). Smooth the batter with a metal palette knife. Gently press half the apples into the batter (OK to overlap). Sprinkle with half the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Add one-third more batter, the remaining apples, and all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Cover with batter, smooth the top (it may not cover the apples; that's OK), and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar. 

5. Bake the cake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is firm and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6. With a small knife, cut around the inside and outside edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Turn the cake out onto a plate. Set another plate on top and invert again so the cake is right-side up. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Adapted from "The Way We Cook"

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

The Recipe Box Project:

If you want to contribute a recipe to The Recipe Box Project, please write it below. Also tell us where you got it (package box, cookbook, mom, friend -- include the name). We're looking for the kinds of dishes that people grew up on, that were served at family suppers, that tell a story, that are typically New England, or that you brought with you from a far away place to New England. We will print one of the recipes in the Food section once a month. To ask any questions, write to Debra Samuels, who is overseeing this project, at To discuss your recipes, click here.