Sitting at my desk at work yesterday, Smitten Kitchen posted a new recipe, and it couldn’t have been more timely, Sunken Apple Honey Cake on erev Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year when we eat apples and honey to celebrate the sweetness of a new year. Since Nik and Zach invited Patrick and I over for Rosh Hashanah dinner, the choice was obvious: make this delicious cake and share it with family and friends. Cutting the apples was a little tricky, as was folding stiff egg whites into the batter, but despite my lack of perfect baker’s technique, this still turned out beautifully.
Here’s what you need:
4 tiny/small apples, halved, peeled and cored
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I just used the juice of one small lemon)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 honey (I still had the most delicious honey left from my wedding favors, so I used that, you can buy it here: Oregon Growers Wildflower Honey)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, separated
2 pinches of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt
Here’s what you do:
1. Prepare the apple topping: Peel, halve and core your apples. Then, place them core side down on a cutting board and cut them in thin parallel slices, only cutting halfway through so the apples stay together. (Don’t worry, half of my cuts went all the way through, just leave the pieces together and you can reassemble when you make the cake.)
2. Once the apples are cut, place them in a bowl, pour the lemon juice over them and then sprinkle the sugar, making sure to keep each half together so it’s easy to put onto the cake later (without having to do a jigsaw puzzle). Set aside.
3. Prepare the honey cake: Set the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9″ non-stick pan with nonstick cooking spray (or butter). (The recipe called for a spring form pan, I didn’t have one so I just inverted the cake when it cooled and then placed it on a cake stand and it worked great.) Cut a round piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the bottom of the pan and line the pan with it. (It’s okay – even good – if the parchment goes up the sides a bit.)
4. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and egg yolks, and beat until combined. Sprinkle the salt and baking powder over the batter and beat again until just combined. Add flour, 1/3 at a time, beating until just combined. Set aside.
5. Rinse off your beaters. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. (I used the high setting, and this took about two minutes.)
6. Stir a scoop or two of the egg whites into the batter. Continue to fold in the rest of the egg whites, a couple of scoops at a time, until they are all incorporated.
7. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out. Place the apples – keeping the halves together – core side down on the batter. No need to push them in – they sink! Then, pour the lemon juice over the apples.
8. Bake for about 35-40 minutes (mine took 40). Remove and allow to cool for a bit. When cooled enough, run a knife around the edge to keep from sticking, and then remove from the spring form pan, or invert on a plate and then flip back over onto a pretty plate or cake stand.
9. Once the cake cools, heat the honey and last pinch of salt for about 30 seconds, then brush the glaze over the cake.