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It's All About the Baking came about because I want to share my Gluten-free baking. I've developed recipes and tricks over the past ten years so I could enjoy old favorites that tasted, well, just like the old favorites! Hundreds of experiments and tastings (including and especially friends who can eat gluten) later, I'm ready to share!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lake Garda Apple Cake

Fresh from the oven!
I've been making this lovely cake for more than 20 years. It was one of the first recipes I converted to Gluten-free and I was delighted at how perfectly it turned out. It had already gone through a few iterations before the big jump to Gluten-free, and it's often the first recipe I turn to in autumn when the new crop of apples comes in. If you're looking for a lighter dessert to end a meal, this is the perfect choice. If you want a cake to serve with afternoon tea, this is it. if you prefer to start the day with something a little sweet, make this recipe! In all the times I've served it from my kitchen, it's never failed to please.

The recipe from which this cake was adapted calls for Golden Delicious apples and my first cakes were perfect with them. You need an apple that softens and bakes with the batter, that is fork tender when cutting into the cake. Over the past few years I've had less success with the Golden Delicious variety. I don't know what's changed, whether it's the apples themselves, the shipping and storage they go through, or something else, but they do not soften sufficiently. This resulted in apples that are tough and a cake that got mashed when cutting into it. In this particular cake I used an early variety of Transparent apples. They softened to just the right texture. If you have good experience baking with a particular apple variety, please use it and please let me know which one you use.

Separating the eggs and whipping the whites gives the finished cake a bit more height and lightness. If you're pressed for time you may skip this step, add the eggs to the combined wet ingredients, and the cake will still be delicious. And pretty! In this recipe I've used the America's Test Kitchen gluten-free flour mixture using Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour. Feel free to use the flour of your choice. For years I've been making it with sorghum flour with great success. Using a little corn flour or finely ground cornmeal gives it a pleasing flavor profile, too. 

Let me know how yours turns out!

Lake Garda Apple Cake

8 TB softened butter
3/4  Sugar
3 TB whole milk or cream
1 tsp vanilla
Grated zest of one lemon

1 1/2 cups Gluten-free flour (please see note at end)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp psyllium seed husk (guar gum or xanthan gum may be substituted)
1/2 tsp salt

4 large eggs, separated, whites whipped to soft peaks
Folding the egg whits with a silicone spatula

Mix together and reserve:
4 TB sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

3 Golden Delicious or Transparent apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 16 thin slices. Combine with half of the cinnamon
sugar mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in upper half
of oven.

Grease bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan.
Cut parchment to fit bottom of pan and grease and flour it.
Preparing the pan

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or by hand)
cream the first five ingredients. Add the egg yolks. Set aside.

Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, psyllium seed husk, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl once. Remove the paddle if using stand mixture and fold in one third of the egg whites with a spatula. When blended in, fold in the rest of the whites until no white streaks or pieces are visible.

Ready for the oven!

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top just a bit. Place apples in concentric rings on top of cake and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over apples. Bake in preheated oven for about an hour, checking at 50 minutes. The top should be a deep golden brown and spring back when pressed lightly. In my oven, it's done in about 55 minutes. Cool on a rack in the pan for five minutes, loosen the side with a sharp knife and then remove side of spring form pan. Cool completely and slip off-set spatula between the cake and parchment and move to serving plate with a large pancake turner.
Why, yes, I will have a slice!

* ATK flour blend:
24 ounces (4 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup white rice flour
7 1/2 ounces (1 2/3 cups) brown rice flour
7 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch
3/4 ounce (3 TB) nonfat milk powder
If you want to understand the science behind why this works, please buy the ATK cookbook. Having said that, I use only Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour for both types of rice flour in this formula. Anson Mills is a wonderful company and deserves to be supported, and this flour makes the absolutely best baked good.