Saturday, April 12, 2008

Easy Apple Snack Cake

We use the term “snack cake” to denote a type of cake that pulls together in minutes with little thought at all. It’s just the thing to whip up for an after school snack or afternoon tea. For an apple snack cake, we wanted to maximize the apples’ flavor and make the cake itself a little spicy. Here’s what we discovered:
  • Prepare the batter with the creaming method for a light, airy texture: Blend the sugar and butter (softened at room temperature) until the mixture is light and airy, which traps air in the batter. At this point the eggs are incorporated, followed by the dry ingredients.
  • Add applesauce to the batter for a rich, fruity flavor and a very moist texture.
  • Use Granny Smith apples for their strong, tart flavor and firm texture that won’t turn too mushy once baked. Stir the diced apples into the prepared batter just before transferring it to the baking pan.
  • Blend cinnamon, allspice, and ground ginger for a spicy flavor that complements the apples. The addition of a little lemon zest will perk up the apple flavor.
Makes one 8-inch square cake

This moist, apple-y cake is delicious as an afternoon snack or for breakfast, toasted and slathered with cream cheese. Dried cranberries make a fine substitute for the raisins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
2 large eggs , at room temperature
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 Granny Smith apples , peeled, cored, and diced medium (2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch-square cake pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Beat the brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the applesauce and lemon zest.

3. Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the apples and raisins (if using).

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

5. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours, before serving.

To Make Ahead

After the cake has cooled, it can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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