Welcome to my first French Fridays post!  This will be a weekly feature (or at least as weekly as possible) in which I review a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” as a part of a larger project with loads of other bloggers doing the same.  As part of this group, we all agree to not publish the recipe – but I hope that the reviews, pictures and descriptions will pique your interest. 

At any rate, this week was Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake … a cake so good, I made it twice in 4 days.  And plan to make it for coworkers next week.  Seriously.  It’s really that good.  And, I think the thing that makes it so good is that it’s simply … apple-y!  Well, apple-y and boozey (3 tablespoons of rum … paging Captain Morgan, please pick up the white courtesy phone!).  I suppose you could add a pinch of cinnamon and / or nutmeg if the mood so struck you, but I don’t think the cake is any the less without it.

One of the keys to its success is that it recommends that you use more than one type of apple – a tip that I’ll be using from now on in cobblers, crisps and pies, because WOW! what a difference the mixture of flavors makes!  I used Pink Lady and Bramley – if I was in the States, I’d probably use a combination of Macintosh, Mutsu and other more delicately flavored apples with maybe one Granny Smith.

The cake, itself, is a model of simplicity – eggs, butter, flour, sugar and apples (oh, and did I mention the rum?) – that’s it.  Even when I made it the second time, I really didn’t want to faff around with the recipe because the finished product truly is sublime — it’s a dense, moist combination that feels in your mouth like it’s half-cake and half-apple.  I think the Brits would call it “squidgy” rather than a light and airy sponge.   

Oh, all right, I did do one thing … about 20 minutes before it was finished cooking, I sprinkled demerera sugar across the top, to give it a little added crunch and color.

Serve it slightly warm with some ice cream or creme anglaise and you have a perfect finish for any meal.   And, let me tell you, straight out of the fridge, it makes a yummy breakfast, too!!  (hey, it’s fruit!  and it’s got eggs in it!  that says breakfast to me!)

If you don’t want to add rum, you can bump up the vanilla a bit … or I think calvados would be an interesting substitution.  I’m glad I didn’t go with my first instinct which was to substitute brandy – I think that would have been WAY too strong. 

It was a fun first recipe (for me, anyway – everyone else started a month ago), and I look forward to continuing with the project – I hope you enjoy it, too!

Equal parts apple and cake - mmmmm ...