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Norm Matthews

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Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake

    •    JOAN NATHAN YIELD8 to 10 servings TIME1 hour 15 minutes 

This simple, rustic cake is perfect for a holiday celebration or any other occasion.

Featured in: In Successful Paris Restaurant, Jewish Roots

 

INGREDIENTS

    •    8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, more for greasing pan

    •    1 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

    •    ⅛ teaspoon salt

    •    2 large eggs

    •    2 cups all-purpose flour

    •    2 teaspoons baking powder

    •    4 Gala or other flavorful apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices

    •    ½ teaspoon Calvados or apple brandy

    •    1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

    •    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

472 calories; 24 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 6 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram

polyunsaturated fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 34 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 107

milligrams cholesterol; 149 milligrams sodium

PREPARATION

    1    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and set aside.

    2    In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine remaining 8 ounces butter, 1 1/3 cups sugar and the salt. Mix until blended. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour and baking powder until thoroughly mixed. Fold in a few of the apples, and spread batter evenly in pan.

    3    In large bowl, toss remaining apples with Calvados, ginger and cinnamon. Arrange apple slices in closely fitting concentric circles on top of dough; all the slices may not be needed. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over apples.

    4    Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake dough comes out clean and apples are golden and tender, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

I made this recipe today but made changes in it because I didn't trust it as it read.  I added about a cup and a half of milk and didn't use nearly all the apples.  I put a fine dice on the apples mixed into the "batter" (which was more like a dough before I added liquid) instead of adding sliced apples as implied in the recipe.  I probably used two and a half which was about 3 cups.  It was crazy to try to cream the butter and sugar with a whisk. I changed to a flat beater with much better results and I added the dry ingredients, apples, and milk with the flat beater instead of folding them in.  The cake turned out OK with the changes I made and looks pretty much like the picture that came with the recipe.  Here is my cake. I could not get the picture from the recipe to desktop so I could not transfer it to this post.  It took about 75 minuted to bake.  After I visited two liquor stores and didn't find any apple brandy, son gave me some apple flavored Crown Royal.  

 

 

 

 

DSCN3756.jpg

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11 minutes ago, Norm Matthews said:

 

Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake

    •    JOAN NATHAN YIELD8 to 10 servings TIME1 hour 15 minutes 

This simple, rustic cake is perfect for a holiday celebration or any other occasion.

Featured in: In Successful Paris Restaurant, Jewish Roots

 

INGREDIENTS

    •    8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, more for greasing pan

    •    1 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

    •    ⅛ teaspoon salt

    •    2 large eggs

    •    2 cups all-purpose flour

    •    2 teaspoons baking powder

    •    4 Gala or other flavorful apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices

    •    ½ teaspoon Calvados or apple brandy

    •    1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

    •    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

472 calories; 24 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 6 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram

polyunsaturated fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 34 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 107

milligrams cholesterol; 149 milligrams sodium

PREPARATION

    1    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and set aside.

    2    In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine remaining 8 ounces butter, 1 1/3 cups sugar and the salt. Mix until blended. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour and baking powder until thoroughly mixed. Fold in a few of the apples, and spread batter evenly in pan.

    3    In large bowl, toss remaining apples with Calvados, ginger and cinnamon. Arrange apple slices in closely fitting concentric circles on top of dough; all the slices may not be needed. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over apples.

    4    Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake dough comes out clean and apples are golden and tender, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

I made this recipe today but made changes in it because I didn't trust it as it read.  I added about a cup and a half of milk and didn't use nearly all the apples.  I put a fine dice on the apples mixed into the "batter" (which was more like a dough before I added liquid) instead of adding sliced apples as implied in the recipe.  I probably used two and a half which was about 3 cups.  It was crazy to try to cream the butter and sugar with a whisk. I changed to a flat beater with much better results and I added the dry ingredients, apples, and milk with the flat beater instead of folding them in.  The cake turned out OK with the changes I made and looks pretty much like the picture that came with the recipe.  Here is my cake. I could not get the picture from the recipe to desktop so I could not transfer it to this post.  It took about 75 minuted to bake.  After I visited two liquor stores and didn't find any apple brandy, son gave me some apple flavored Crown Royal.  

 

 

 

 

DSCN3756.jpg

 

You probably thought of this already but did you read the comments about this cake on the NY Times Cooking site?

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ElsieD I did. I read a few at least. Some said the cake was wonderful and others complained about it being a disaster.  When I started making it, I thought it must be missing some liquid so I added enough milk to make an actual batter.

 


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)

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I just went back and read all the comments.  It seems a lot of people had problems with the cake as written.   Which makes me wonder how  it earned a 5 star rating from 312 people.  Sorry I wasn't more helpful.

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I tend to be skeptical about written reviews.  That plus being at catered events with teachers in Junction City before I retired.  I see a lot of reviews saying the recipe was great or awful after they say they have made so many changes that is isn't the same recipe. Sometimes I wonder if the person has any idea what they are tasting is supposed to taste like. I remember once going to an event that had gumbo on the menu.  I passed a table where someone was remarking how good the gumbo was. I looked and she was eating fried okra.  I asked the caterer where was the gumbo and she pointed to the fried okra. The menu was billed as being designed by a CIA trained Chef.  Once upon request, I posted a recipe for French Onion soup at the old Martha Stewart bulletin boards.  Someone reviewed their experience making 'my' recipe. She substituted cream sherry for dry sherry, didn't want to take time to make beef stock and complained about the price of beef bones anyway so she used demiglace and bouillon cubes.  She used edam instead of guyere, again because the Swiss cheese cost too much.  She thought she might use some soy sauce but didn't because she didn't want to change my recipe the first time she made it. She thanked me for the delicious recipe in the end. 

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23 minutes ago, Norm Matthews said:

I tend to be skeptical about written reviews.  That plus being at catered events with teachers in Junction City before I retired.  I see a lot of reviews saying the recipe was great or awful after they say they have made so many changes that is isn't the same recipe. Sometimes I wonder if the person has any idea what they are tasting is supposed to taste like. I remember once going to an event that had gumbo on the menu.  I passed a table where someone was remarking how good the gumbo was. I looked and she was eating fried okra.  I asked the caterer where was the gumbo and she pointed to the fried okra. The menu was billed as being designed by a CIA trained Chef.  Once upon request, I posted a recipe for French Onion soup at the old Martha Stewart bulletin boards.  Someone reviewed their experience making 'my' recipe. She substituted cream sherry for dry sherry, didn't want to take time to make beef stock and complained about the price of beef bones anyway so she used demiglace and bouillon cubes.  She used edam instead of guyere, again because the Swiss cheese cost too much.  She thought she might use some soy sauce but didn't because she didn't want to change my recipe the first time she made it. She thanked me for the delicious recipe in the end. 

 

Yes, I too have read many reviews where they really "hated" or "loved" a recipe when they have made so many changes the review is totally irrelevant.  I also wonder about the types who give a single star to a recipe and they haven't even made it yet because the recipe calls for something they don't like, thereby dragging down the overall  rating.   And the ones who give 5 stars because it "looks good".  You sure gave me a good chuckle reading about the person who made "your" recipe.

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I try not to make changes in a recipe the first time I use it, the two exceptions being if it calls for an ingredient I just can't abide, but otherwise the recipe looks good, in which case I'll either leave it out or sub something, or if it calls for an ingredient that's just too difficult to find in my part of the world, in which case I'll go to my trusty Food Lover's Companion for an appropriate substitute.

 

Wholesale changes have to wait until I've made the recipe a couple of times, at which point the recipe simply becomes a starting point off which to riff.

 

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It's OK to make substitutions if you are experienced enough to know the substitution is reasonable.  The lady who used cream sherry instead of dry said it was because she was confused when she saw there was more than one kind of sherry and decided anything with cream in it must be good.

 

Then again, I love the quote I saw once that said a recipe should be considered as a list of suggestions.


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
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I find it interesting that the writer of the recipe switches between calling it a dough and a batter. 

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In one of the reviews I noticed a reference to a similar recipe in King Arthur Flour. Here it is. It also does not use any liquid.

 

OLD-FASHIONED APPLE CAKE WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING  

 

This cake is an old, old favorite of ours. It's a cake where the whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts. The moist, semi-chunky cake, spread with the frosting equivalent of brown sugar fudge, is perfect served with a cup of coffee or, better still, a glass of ice-cold milk.

 

Our thanks to the wonderful Bakery Lane Soup Bowl cookbook for the inspiration for this recipe.

 

 

AT A GLANCE PREP  20 mins. to 30 mins. BAKE  42 mins. to 47 mins. TOTAL2 hrs 2 mins. to 2 hrs 17 mins. YIELD  about 24 servings

 

Ingredients

CAKE

 

        2 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour

        1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

        2 teaspoons baking soda

        3/4 teaspoon salt

        1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground nutmeg

        2 large eggs

        1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

        4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples

        1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans

 

FROSTING

 

        7 tablespoons unsalted butter

        2/3 cup brown sugar

        1/4 teaspoon salt

        1/4 cup milk

        2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

        3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla-butternut flavor

 

Instructions

        Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan.

        To make the cake: Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl.

    Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly.

Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.

        please remove Instruction Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.

        Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.

    Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don't remove the cake from the pan.

To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts.

    After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners' sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

        Bake your best: Shop specialty ingredients, tools, pans, and more

        To toast nuts, place them in a single layer in a cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 9 minutes, until they're golden brown and smell "toasty."

        To guarantee lump-free frosting, sift confectioners' sugar before adding to the butter mixture. Usually all the lumps disappear as you beat the frosting; but to guarantee no lumps at all, sift the sugar first.

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Personally, I do not think the recipe has anything wrong with it but . . . . 

 

And here is the "but". I find a lot of recipes that are claimed to be "very old" or "from place X" have been through a lot of metamorphosis as they get published on the Internet, sometimes to the extent that they just do not work as they were intended or sometimes a word gets left out. Looking at the Babette Friedman’s Apple Cake recipe, could the butter ingredient line be missing the word "melted". Were the conversions done correctly (it claims to be from Paris).

 

And yes, I would use a beater attachment on my mixer - I do not want a bent and buckled whisk!

 

As an example, I use a very old recipe for a certain South African tart of which I bake around 24 each week. Using the recipe as written, it does not work properly. So, I went back in time and asked my ageing mother (she is in her 90's) what could be wrong. Simple, she told me, just remember in the 50's, when the recipe was originally written, you just bought "eggs" - there were no weights associated with them in those days and generally eggs were quite a bit bigger - a large egg in those days was equivalent to what we now have classified as an extra-large egg. Just add an extra "large" egg or stop buying "large" eggs and buy "extra-large" ones. This now results in my tarts being "perfect".

 

Getting back to the recipe you queried, it sounds like it produces a rather heavy batter, similar to that often used in a fruit cake and not a light sponge type of modern cakes. Have a look at the Dundee Cake recipe poster by @andiesenji  the other day - the batter is quite similar except it uses a couple more eggs. http://www.asenjigalblogs.com/resurrected-recipes-from-long-ago/dundee-cake-a-favorite-from-my-childhood/ 

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Interesting. Babette Friedman's Apple Cake is a classic Rosh Hashana recipe, although I do not know if that was the original intention of Babette Friedman! I made it once, many years ago, and I remember that it was very good. But I'm also pretty sure that the recipe above is NOT the recipe I made! I know I used oil rather than butter (it had to be pareve), I'm sure there was no Calvados in it, etc. I don't know if the recipe I used was already altered from the original or if I just made my own changes as I went along. I know I have a printout of the recipe somewhere, I'll see if I can find it. (These days I make Marcy Goldman's Majestic and Moist Honey Cake, which also goes through a lot of changes on the web, but I use her original recipe always, and it is perfect.)

 

Oops. I just realized it wasn't the Babette Friedman cake I made, it was this recipe from Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2008/09/moms-apple-cake/ I remember now I was looking at apple cake recipes and the Babette Friedman recipe was all over the place, but I liked the looks of the Smitten Kitchen one better. (I guess I made the right choice.) But the name Babette Friedman really stuck in my mind!


Edited by cakewalk Oops. (log)
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12 hours ago, Anna N said:

I find it interesting that the writer of the recipe switches between calling it a dough and a batter. 

 

What is the difference between a dough and a batter?

 


Edited by Shel_B (log)

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17 minutes ago, Shel_B said:

 

What is the difference between a dough and a batter?

 

 

Dough is the name given to a moistened mixture of ingredients that is firm enough to handle. A dough is usually brought together with the fingers or hand into a ball or solid lump and it may be kneaded until smooth. The consistency of the dough depends on type, ranging from dry and crumbly or firm to soft and sticky. A dough is never soft enough to be beaten, when it would be termed a mixture or batter. (Larousse Gastronomique)

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While recipes can serve as a starting point and there's nothing wrong with substituting things, that's not really the same as suggesting a recipe may be wrong when you haven't actually tried it. The recipe may intentionally use a drier base to absorb the juice that will cook out of the apples. Even if it seems more dry than desirable right out of the oven, once those juices are absorbed and distributed it will have the same effect as using a soaking syrup. Getting a good result with substitutions or additions isn't evidence that there was anything wrong with the original recipe.

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Of differences between original and later versions of a recipe, I have a personal experience with that.  Everyday Food magazine contacted me several years ago asking permission to print one of my recipes. I gave them permission and they printed it with attribution to me but they changed three ingredients.  You can still find the recipe at Martha Stewart under Pork Bulgogi.  They substituted olive oil for peanut oil, pork loin for pork shoulder and used red pepper flakes instead of pepper paste.

 

Another time MS posted a cookie recipe specifying Dutch process cocoa powder and used only baking soda but the recipe didn't have enough acid to work with baking soda and came out so flat they were almost transparent.  Using Hersheys cocoa powder, for instance, or adding some baking powder,  the recipe worked just fine.

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Tri2Cook, you make a good point. The recipe may have turned out well if I had used 4 sliced apples as the original recipe stated, but the directions were unclear as to whether I should use all of them. I opted to used a lot less.  


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)

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Could be variable results from variable ingredients.  Apples are a natural product and include natural variation.  Chances are the water percentage change from one fruit to the next would not be huge, but it could contribute.  Size of the apples used, now, that could be interesting.  I have three apples in my kitchen right now that could be termed medium sized.  Respective weights: 184 , 188 and 237 grams. Now lets say Norm likes big apples and he uses 4 large apples (Why buy anything else?!?).  But lets say I am cheap, so I took 4 apples from my bag of small apples from the discount bin.  Suddenly Norm is adding 800 grams of apple to his cake, while I end up only adding 400.

 

This may not be what is going on.  But to answer the question "Is something wrong with this recipe?", this is the first thing I think about.


Edited by donk79 (log)

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Maybe the butter should be melted? Then the whisk would make sense. 

 

Similar method, though differing amounts of ingredients in Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares, which I just made last night. And Dorie's recipe does have a bit of milk, but then it has a lot less butter. 

 

Quote

Use a whisk to combine the eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowl for about 2 minutes, until the sugar has just about dissolved and, more important, until the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the milk and the melted, cooled butter. Add the flour mixture into the bowl; use the whisk to form a smooth batter.

Add the apples to the bowl; switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold in the apples, turning the mixture until each thin slice is coated in batter. Scrape the mixture into the pan, smoothing the top as evenly as you can. It will be bumpy; that’s its nature

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/dorie-greenspans-custardy-apple-squares/14940/


Edited by FauxPas (log)
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3 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

Maybe the butter should be melted? Then the whisk would make sense. 

 

Similar method, though differing amounts of ingredients in Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares, which I just made last night. And Dorie's recipe does have a bit of milk, but then it has a lot less butter. 

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/dorie-greenspans-custardy-apple-squares/14940/

 

 Don't think the butter should be melted since it clearly says "softened". 

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7 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 Don't think the butter should be melted since it clearly says "softened". 

 

That's not the original recipe that Norm was referring to, though it is one he is using for comparison. 

 

ETA The original recipe does not say 'softened'. 


Edited by FauxPas (log)

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2 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

 

That's not the original recipe that Norm was referring to, though it is one he is using for comparison. 

 

ETA The original recipe does not say 'softened'. 

 

Gotcha. Sorry. 

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1 hour ago, donk79 said:

Could be variable results from variable ingredients.  Apples are a natural product and include natural variation.  Chances are the water percentage change from one fruit to the next would not be huge, but it could contribute.  Size of the apples used, now, that could be interesting.  I have three apples in my kitchen right now that could be termed medium sized.  Respective weights: 184 , 188 and 237 grams. Now lets say Norm likes big apples and he uses 4 large apples (Why buy anything else?!?).  But lets say I am cheap, so I took 4 apples from my bag of small apples from the discount bin.  Suddenly Norm is adding 800 grams of apple to his cake, while I end up only adding 400.

 

This may not be what is going on.  But to answer the question "Is something wrong with this recipe?", this is the first thing I think about.

 

 

The honey crisp apples they had at the store that day were at least 60% bigger than some I had got prior. 4 apples made quite a lot of slices and I was afraid it was too much.

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1 hour ago, FauxPas said:

Maybe the butter should be melted? Then the whisk would make sense. 

 

Similar method, though differing amounts of ingredients in Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares, which I just made last night. And Dorie's recipe does have a bit of milk, but then it has a lot less butter. 

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/dorie-greenspans-custardy-apple-squares/14940/

 

 

That would make sense. In any case, I think the recipe was not well written. 

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