This is the tried-and-true, much loved apple pecan cake that graces my table during the High Holidays. I would make it more often if someone would invent a self-peeling, coreless apple that dices itself. Since I find the apple-chopping tedious, even with a corer, I only bake it once a year.
I use Granny Smith apples because they’re tart, firm, and somewhat drier than the yellow and red apples at my local store. Because apples vary significantly in water content, you may find that your cake is extremely moist. If so, bake it for an extra 10 minutes to dry it out.
Try to find genuine vanilla extract and fresh pecans. I don’t mean that you have to pick and shell them yourself! Treat yourself to a new bag from the health food store instead of using the package at the back of your baking supplies.
This is a dense, moist cake that freezes well. If you wish to substitute different sugars or whole wheat flour, it will still be delicious. It’s a very flexible recipe.
Apple Pecan Cake
Yield: Two 9×4″ loaves (or two 8×5″ loaves or one 9″ round)
600 gm (= 4) Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored, 1/4″ dice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
150 gm (3/4 cup) margarine or butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup pecans; coarsely chopped
Combine the diced apples, cinnamon, and sugar (this can be done in advance if necessary) in a bowl and stir well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease the pans.
In a large bowl, cream the margarine (or butter) with sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour and baking powder, until just combined (it’s OK if there are a few dry specks of flour showing but you don’t want big dry patches).
Stir in the apples and sugar, scraping all the juices into the batter. Stir in the pecans. The batter will be very sticky and stiff, so you will need a wooden spoon and a rubber scraper to wrestle it into the pans: pick up a large glob of batter with the wooden spoon and scrape it into a pan. Repeat until both pans are a little over half full. Smooth the tops.
Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife stuck in the center comes out moist but without streaks of raw batter and the center of the cake springs back when pressed gently. If your cake is very moist, bake it for a few minutes longer, covering with foil if the top is getting too brown.
Let the cake sit in the pan for a few minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out carefully onto a cake rack to finish cooling.
I normally serve the cake plain but if you need something with more pizzazz, bake the cake in a 9″ springform pan. Peel, core, and thinly slice an additional two apples and arrange in concentric circles. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of melted margarine or butter over the top, sprinkle 7 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bake for an hour (larger pan), checking for doneness around 50 minutes. The apples on top should be tender. It looks like you slaved for hours in the kitchen, which isn’t far from the truth….
If you don’t want to go that far, dust the top of the cooled cake with sifted icing sugar or serve with a scoop of very good vanilla ice cream.