Hey rhubarb! Where you at?
This is the pressing matter at the moment. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I swear there is usually rhubarb at the farmer’s market this time of the year. But I’ve been checking every week. And nada. No rhubarb is an indication to me that it’s not really spring yet. And this makes me yearn for springtime even more. Oh well. Hopefully I’ll have some rhurbarb deliciousness to share with you in the not-too-distant future.
In the meantime, I’m doing a bit of spring cleaning over here. I recently took an inventory of my pantry and have come to realize that I have a lot of flour. Like a lot. Some of it is leftover from past experiments. And then there is some that I’ve been hoarding for future projects. It’s a little bit out of control, so I’m making a point to use what I have before I buy anything else.
Enter Good to the Grain. This lovely book has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, waiting patiently for a little attention. It’s full of recipes that call for flours other than your run of the mill all-purpose variety. Since there is a whole chapter devoted to whole wheat flour, I decided it was time to finally crack open the package of graham flour that I’ve been holding onto. And since I had apples on hand, it seemed the only thing to do was make this apple graham coffee cake.
I’m a sucker for apple cakes. There is something so simple, even humble about an apple cake. Apples, cinnamon, sugar, flour, you get the picture. I was pleasantly surprised by this particular apple cake; I have to admit that I get a bit nervous when whole wheat flour is involved. I live in fear of heavy masses of dry, flavorless dough. But this cake is exactly the opposite – it is incredibly moist with a light crumb and bit of a rustic feel from the coarse graham flour. And the caramelized apples baked into the surface of the cake are just perfect, tender and sticky with cinnamon and sugar. Not only will this cake satisfy your sweet tooth, but you might just join the whole-grain fan club.
apple graham coffee cake
adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
makes one 9-inch round cake
2 large tart apples (I used Granny Smiths), peeled and cored
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup all-purposr flour
3/4 cup graham flour
3/4 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole plain yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with the rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan with high sides (I used a 9×3-inch pan with a removable bottom). Set aside.
Quarter the apples, then cut each quarter into thirds. Slice the thirds into pieces as thick as your thumb.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon over medium-high heat until bubbly. Add the apples and toss to coat, then let sear for 1 minute without stirring. Cook for 6-10 minutes, until tender and caramelized, stirring once a minute or so. Remove the caramelized apples from the heat and scrape them onto a plate with the buttery sauce.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Using a spatula, scrape the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently mix until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Spread the apple topping evenly over the batter.
Bake on the middle rack for 40-48 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is ready when it is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched, or when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.