Rubber boots and the flannel shirts come out for the season. Usually back to school means cool crisp mornings, school supplies and new shoes. Funny how some things are so perennial. When the season changes our routines change our wardrobe changes and our food changes. Going to the apple orchard is a weekend family outing we haven’t missed in 20 years. This year has been unseasonably warm, today as I type this it’s 85 degrees. This weekend we lucked out with a cool crisp day. Mary was happy to dig out her Hunter boots and of course, stop at Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spiced latte.
With our apple haul at home I couldn’t wait to start baking. I’m making a French Apple Cake, one of my family’s favorites. It’s made with a combination of tart Granny Smith apples and sweet Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples for a variation of flavor that gives this cake a complex flavor.
Then, a simple Apple Crescent recipe for those hurried nights when you want a simple and delicious dessert that even the kids can make.
This apple cake is less cake than sautéed apples set in a thick custardy crumb set in a golden sugar sprinkled crust. By browning the butter this recipe is more concentrated in flavor. Have you ever browned butter? It’s unbelievable how this easy little task can elevate butter to an even better realm. Instead of using a spatula to scrape all of the brown butter out of the pan, simply pour the butter into a small bowl leaving a coating of beautiful browned butter lining the pan to cook the apple slices with two tablespoons of sugar. The caramelization will boost the flavor and ensure your cake will not end up with a soggy bottom. There’s nothing pretentious about this dessert. It’s an any day toss together cake with a little of this and a little of that resulting in a cross between a pie, a tarte tatin and a cake. It may seem simple with no frosting or sauce but, when you taste it, you’ll quickly see it’s delicious in its simplicity. Brown butter makes everything good. That should be a bumper sticker
French Apple Cake
- 8 tablespoons or one stick of salted butter plus more for the pan
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples peeled, cord, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1 pound Braeburn or golden delicious apples, peeled, cord and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 12 tablespoons of white sugar divided
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Brandy or Calvado‘s
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- two large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- powdered sugar for serving if desired
- Heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Coat a 9 inch spring form pan with butter, dust with flour, then tap out the excess.
- In a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes. Pour into a small heatproof bowl don’t scrape the skillet star all the spice into the butter and set aside.
- Add all the apples, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the salt to the still hot skillet and sent over medium high heat. Cook stirring occasionally until the moisture released by the apples has evaporator and the apples are beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the Brandy and cook until evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to a large plate spread in an even layer and refrigerate uncovered until cool to the touch 15 to 20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, vanilla and 9 tablespoons of sugar; gradually whisk in the butter.
Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth, the batter will be very thick. Add the cooked apples and fold until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until deeply browned 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack about two hours. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.
Apple Pie Crescent Bites are quick and easy. These little two-bite-sized treats are best served warm right out of the oven. The sugars caramelize leaving sweet crunchy bits at the edges and soft apple goodness inside. You know I am a huge proponent of eating non-processed foods but here I have made an exception to the rule. The Pillsbury crescent dough makes throwing together a delicious dessert quick, delicious and easy. You could just as easily use your own pie dough and make a little hand pie or replace the crescent dough with puff pastry.
Apple Pie Crescent Bites
These are silly easy. The sugar caramelizes and creates crispy gooey edges while the thinly sliced apple is tender and warm. Add a scoop of ice-cream for an extra treat.
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, and additional apple pie spice (about ¼ teaspoon) for sprinkling on top of crescent rolls
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced into thin slices
- 1 (8-ounce) can Pillsbury Original crescent rolls
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and apple pie spice. Set aside.
- Melt butter and toss apple slices in butter, set aside.
- Arrange crescent roll triangles on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly distribute brown sugar mixture onto each triangle.
- Sprinkle each triangle evenly with the chopped pecans.
- Place an apple slice on the wide end of each triangle. Wrap crescent roll dough around each apple.
- Brush each crescent roll with remaining butter. Sprinkle lightly with additional apple pie spice.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.