When I was doing my internship in a local bakery I got to help make some cakes one day. Not just any cake, though, one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. This beauty was built up out of a Breton shortbread base, a pound cake body, and apples and almond flakes on top. Heaven. Apple cake is one of those things that’s beautiful either way, you can’t go wrong with a good apple cake to be honest. I had this friend who once told me (and I could tell she was rather embarrassed about it) that she could only really bake apple cake. And I remember thinking that if you can make a good apple cake you really don’t need to know much more to be able to entertain people and offer them something to snack on with their coffee or tea.
This was my first attempt at recreating this lovely cake from the bakery. While it wasn’t perfect it was really good and scored points with my family! Next time I’m going to make the Breton shortbread base a little thicker, I’m going to substitute half the flour in the pound cake recipe with almond powder, and I’m going to leave bigger chunks of apple in my chunky apple sauce.
For the Breton shortbread (recipe from Christophe Felder)
80 grams of very fine sugar (I like to blitz up regular sugar until you get a consistency that’s closer to icing sugar)
2 egg yolks
85 grams of butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of salt
120 grams of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
What to do
01. Mix the egg yolk and the sugar until you have a very light mixture. This will take a while, be patient!
02. Cream your butter. Make sure your butter is at room temperature and very soft (but not melted!) and mix with a handheld mixer (or kitchenaid thing) until it’s super creamy.
03. Add egg mixture to the creamed butter and mix well.
04. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Incorporate with a spatula until you have a cookie dough. Let this rest in the fridge for at least an hour, so the butter can solidify again.
05. Once the dough’s rested enough, roll out ’til it’s about 1/2-1 cm thick (quite thick) and cut out a circle that’s the same size as your bottomless cake tin.
06. Line your cake thin with baking paper. This will keep the pound cake batter from running out, plus it’ll make it look all pretty and rustic. Put your Breton shortbread in your cake tin and set in the fridge while you make the rest.
Chunky apple sauce
Three to four apples
01. Peel your apples and cut up – but make sure your pieces are relatively big. I cut up mine too small and let it cook too long, so my apple sauce didn’t really have any big chunks left and so it kind of dissolved into the cake while baking. While that wasn’t a bad thing in itself, this cake is nicer if you’ve got some chunks of apple to bite into.
02. Put a pot on the fire, melt some butter and then add your apples, sugar and cinnamon to taste. Let your apples stew a bit so you have a chunky apple sauce. Let this cool down while you make the pound cake.
Alright this is an easy one, you need equal part butter, sugar, egg and flour. I always make it with 250 grams. That’s a little bit too much to fill two of these apple cakes, but I used the rest to make cupcakes :)
250 grams of butter (at room temperature)
250 grams of sugar
250 grams of egg (about 5)
250 grams of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
lil bit of salt
vanilla (I use a vanilla bean that I rub into my sugar)
What to do
Cream your butter, making sure it’s warm enough but not melted. Add your sugar and mix until you have a creamy mixture. Add your eggs one by one, mixing well after every addition. Sift in your flour and baking powder and salt, incorporating with a spatula and mixing until it’s all incorporated but not any longer!
Pour your pound cake batter on top of the Breton shortbread bottom, filling the cake tin about 2/3rd of the way. Add your apple sauce and some almonds slivers and bake in a preheated oven at 175°C for about 40-50 minutes, depending on your oven. Serve cold and with a dusting of icing sugar!
So yeah, feel free to try to make the base a little thicker, and adding some almond flour to your cake itself – since there’s almonds on top as well, it should have a really taste effect. You can also put some Amaretto (almond liquor) or Grand Marnier (apple liquor) in your apple sauce if you’d like! I bet that’d be really nice. Some things I’ll definitely try next time as well.