My family simply loves apples. Their apple habit is one that I as mom am more than happy to support. Buying apples at the store is not terribly economical for us. I’ve needed to resort to other methods of procuring these scarlet gems.
When the boys were young we would spend the afternoon at a local orchard picking apples to our heart’s content. But as the boys grew older and their appetites became that of men, apple picking at the orchard simply became too expensive. ‘Twas fun while it lasted.
We then made an effort to take autumn trips to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s an area that we love and is only a three hour drive away. We’d visit the sights, take in a show at Sight and Sound Theater, and make our way to a little special market. Kaufman’s is located in the neighboring town of Bird-in-Hand. They sell their own fresh produce, baking items, and various homemade jams and jellies. If you time your visit just right, you will be in for a real treat. For at the entrance to the store can be found bins of apple seconds. These apples are a bit bumped and bruised but are perfect for making applesauce, apple pie, and apple crisp. The best part? You can fill a large bag for only $5. Major score!
I would take my bag, which by the way was plastic and had quite a bit of elasticity to it, and would stuff until the bag could hold no more. I remember my youngest asking me once, “Aren’t you supposed to be able to hold the bag by the handles, Mom? You’ve got so many apples in that bag that you can’t even see the handles.” Exactly! The boys always laughed at me. We would take home 5-6 bags of apples per trip. We’d be left with hundreds of apples in all types of varieties: Honeycrisp, Macoun, Cortland, Macintosh, and the most coveted of apples, the Stayman Winesap. Oh, my friends. In my honest opinion, Stayman Winesap apples are the Rolls-Royce of apples. They are the perfect applesauce apple. You must try them.
As much as we have enjoyed Lancaster in the past, the busyness of life has prevented us from making that apple trip for the past few years. Instead I have resorted to buying apples in bulk from a local produce distributor. I can pick up a 40 pound box of Stayman Winesaps for a pretty decent price.
But, last week, a friend of mine picked up this nice little gift for me:
That’s about 80-100 Fuji apples. Good friend, no? I’ve made a few batches of applesauce. But, I had a hankering to do something a little different with some of these apples. I decided to make a cake, an apple cake to be exact, with crumbs (because it seems like I add crumbs to every baked good I make). The result was a rustic looking dessert that was simply incredible. This dessert will have a place at my Thanksgiving dessert table. That’s saying a lot because it is not easy to oust a long standing favorite from that table, but this cake has done just that.
I know that if you try it, you will love it. The cake is light and fluffy, studded with diced apples, and scented with warm cinnamon and nutmeg. The crumbs are crazy good…that’s it, just crazy good. Top it all off with a dollop of homemade whipped cream and you have autumn on a plate.
The recipe that follows is gluten free (you would never know it), but you can certainly substitute regular flour in equal amounts with identical results.
Gluten Free Apple Spice Crumb Cake
¼ cup avocado oil (or canola)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups gluten free flour (I use Bob’s 1-to-1 Gluten Free Flour Blend)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 & ½ cups diced apples
2 cups diced apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup gluten free flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup salted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly coat an 8″ x 10″ rectangular baking dish with butter. Set aside.
Place the avocado oil, eggs, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until smooth. Add in the almond milk and apple cider vinegar.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing only until just incorporated. Be sure not to over mix.
Core and dice enough apples to yield 3 & 1/2 cups. I prefer to use sweet apples such as Gala, Pinata, or Fuji apples. When dicing, be sure to cut into small pieces; no big chunks here. Aim for the size of the cubed carrots found in a package of frozen peas and carrots. Oh, and if you’re using organic apples, keep the skin on.
Fold 1 & 1/2 cups of diced apples into the cake batter. Reserve the remaining diced apples (you’ll need them in just a bit). Spread the cake batter into the prepared baking dish.
Stir 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into the reserved diced apples. Scatter the apples on top of the cake batter (no need to press the apples in).
Prepare the crumb topping by whisking together 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Cut one stick of salted butter (1/2 cup) into small cubes. Using a food processor, a hand held pastry blender, or just your good-old hands, combine all of the ingredients together until large crumbs form. If using your hands, this will take a little muscle power and a few minutes of your time. You want to be sure that all of the butter has been completely worked into the dry ingredients. No sandy crumbs! Nope, keep working until large crumbs easily hold together. Perfect.
Scatter the crumbs on top of the apples.
Bake for 55-60 minutes on the middle rack in the oven.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on top of a cooling rack (while remaining in the baking dish).
Before serving, whip together 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar until thickened. Place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each piece of cake.