Early this spring I had a chance to dine at Ottolenghi, an excellent, yet unpretentious restaurant in the Islington area of London. My meal was so memorable that I wrote about it on my blog, mentioning a celestial Apple and Sultana Cake with Maple Frosting.
Back home, I couldn’t get the heavenly cake out of mind, and set out to reproduce it. After multiple tries, including several failed icing attempts, I had a version close to my remembrance of the original. Then, by chance, I found the recipe for the Ottolenghi cake on line, reprinted from one of the chef’s earlier cookbooks. The British cake was made with olive oil, mine with butter, theirs called for eggs plus extra beaten whites, while mine used only whole eggs. The London cake was made with castor sugar (a finely ground white sugar), my creation with both white and light brown sugars. Finally, my batter was spread in two pans and baked for a little more than 30 minutes, while theirs was baked in a single pan for an hour and a half.
For now I’ll stick with my adaptation of this incredibly moist, double-layered cake. I served it at a recent supper for my husband’s Amherst College students, many of whom had second helpings! It’s ideal for a crowd, so you could use it on Mother’s Day (May 13), include it at graduation celebrations, or tempt guests with slices on Memorial Day (May 21).
Apple and Golden Raisin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups all purpose flour plus extra for the baking pans
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and diced, plus extra for the baking pans
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled, finely grated Golden Delicious apples (3 to 4)
1 cup golden raisins
10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
12 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9- inch straight sided round cake pans. Line each with parchment and butter and flour the parchment.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla, and stir to combine. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the mixture until it is smooth and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Reduce speed to low and beat in the grated apples (don’t worry if they’ve started to turn brown) for a few seconds. Then, by hand, stir in the raisins. Divide the mixture between the two pans, smoothing the top of the batter in each evenly with a metal spatula or a table knife.
4. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Watch carefully as cooking time can vary slightly. Remove and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then loosen edges of cakes from pans with a sharp paring knife, and invert them onto a work surface. Let cakes cool to room temperature while you make the frosting.
5. For frosting, place butter, confectioner’s sugar, and maple syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually, a tablespoon at a time, add the cream cheese and beat until mixture is completely smooth and no cream cheese flecks remain.
6. Place a cooled cake, flat side up on a serving plate, and using a metal spatula or table knife, spread the top with one cup of the frosting. Then, place the second cake, flat side down, on top. Spread the top with the remaining frosting, making decorative swirls with a spatula or table knife. (The cake can be prepared ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 hours, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.) Serves 10 to 12.
© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2012
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