Nonnie’s Apple Cake
One of my greatest triumphs in cooking through my grandmother Nonnie’s cookbook so far was her apple cake, a welcome addition to any dessert spread, whether it’s a high holiday or a normal weeknight. “Cake” is right there in the name, but it’s more like a marvelous mess of softly yielding apple chunks just barely held together by a tender crumb base—one that only gets more lusciously fruit-saturated as it sits.
Rich as that sounds, the cake is also surprisingly versatile; even though it contains plenty of butter, sugar and eggs, the final product turns out to be neither too rich nor too sweet. You can (and should) have a slice for dessert, of course, but you can also eat a big old hunk in the morning without feeling too guilty about having cake for breakfast.
Let’s put it this way: For 27 years, I thought I was firmly on Team Pie. Then I made this cake—and I wasn’t so sure where my loyalties lay anymore.
- 4 apples, quartered, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1½ cup sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss apple chunks with lemon juice; set aside. Beat eggs until light. Add sugars, butter and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift dry ingredients together and blend into egg mixture. Add apples and nuts; it’ll seem like there are too many apple chunks for the amount of batter you’ve made, but don’t worry, that’s what makes this cake so wonderful.
- Pour into well-greased 9-by-11-inch baking pan; sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and a tester comes out clean of batter (but not apple goo).
- Cool on wire rack. You’re welcome to enjoy immediately, but know that it’ll taste even better on the second day.