Happily, some recipes trade glamour and offer instead reliability. It’s kind of like the little black dress hanging at the edge of your closet. (Men, take heart: there’s cake in this post for you, even if you can’t relate to the metaphor with which I’m about to hit you over the head.) You know the dress, ladies: you rarely pull it out, usually buying a new dress for a special occasion—one you might only wear once. But when the moment is right, you know it’s there for you. You can pull it out with only a moment’s notice. You can dress it up or down and you can make it work in any season, with the addition or subtraction of nylons or a scarf (or, in the case of the recipe, a variety of fruits and spices).
This recipe is much like that black dress. It’s unassuming and simple but, when the occasion is right, it’s the perfect choice. The adaptations are endless and the recipe can serve as a culinary merry-go-round for the various fruits as they come into and whirl out of season. The recipe, well known to many of you in the food blogosphere, is Dorie Greenspan’s and in its original carnation it’s called Dimply Plum Cake—in the running for most charming recipe name ever, I’m sure.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
I went a different way with my plums this fall, but I still hoped to try this recipe. When I saw a crate of honeycrisps at the farmers’ market a week or so ago, I knew my chance had arrived. I traded the original recipe’s ground cardamom for ground cinnamon (we’re talking apples here, people) and nestled wedges of blushing apples into the thick, creamy batter instead of plum rounds.
The result was unexpectedly elegant and undeniably lovely, just like—you guessed it!—a great little black dress. I packed the cake up and brought it with me to a family friend’s wedding in Michigan the weekend before last. Along with my favorite black dress, of course.
Dimply Apple Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups all purpose four
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
Grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
12 wedges of a medium-sized apple
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8-inch square pan or glass pie plate and set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and ground cinnamon.
In a stand mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the oil, lemon zest, vanilla and almond. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture. Pour the batter in the prepared dish, smooth the top and arrange the apple wedges on top.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.