I have been making a lot of recipes from Cook's Illustrated, and I'd bookmarked this recipe ever since I made some homemade Cran-Applesauce last weekend. No time like the present to whip one up, right? The sugar & spice streudel mixture sprinkled on top makes for a nice, crispy sweet crust, and the texture of the bread within is smooth and apple-y. The room smells wonderfully fall with the aroma of apples and spices. However, this does take some prep work- there is an apple cider reduction, and the dried apple reduction will need to take a spin in the food processor (or blender). However, while the apple cider is reducing, you can proceed with the recipe and even have time to wash some dishes in between.
Since I wanted to take some to our friends and neighbors, I doubled the recipe. I baked it in a 13x9 dish, and cooked the cider reduction for 20 minutes, and baked the cake for 45 minutes- all tips from CI. (However, I will post the original recipe made for an 8" cake pan below.) While I used my Cran-Applesauce, any applesauce will do. The cake resulted in a moist, yet light texture and the crispy sweet oat-nut streudel topped it all. It's worth it!
This cake is packed with cider-infused apples, warm spices, and a crunchy-sweet oat-nut streudel
3/4 cup dried apples (2 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup apple cider
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup sugar (4 3/4 ounces)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats (or quick)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature (Used Cran-Applesauce)
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish. (Just an fyi- I didn't cover my pan with parchment paper, and the cake came out just fine.)
2. Bring dried apples and cider to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until liquid evaporates and mixture appears dry, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
3. Whisk flour and baking soda in medium bowl to combine; set aside.
4. In second medium bowl, whisk sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Measure 2 tablespoons sugar-spice mixture into medium bowl and add brown sugar, nuts, and oats.
5. Work in softened butter by rubbing mixture between fingers until fully incorporated; set aside.
6. In food processor, process cooled dried-apple mixture and applesauce until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl as needed; set aside.
7. Whisk egg and salt in large bowl to combine.
8. Add sugar-spice mixture and whisk continuously until well combined and light colored, about 20 seconds.
9. Add butter in three additions, whisking after each.
10. Add applesauce mixture and vanilla and whisk to combine.
11. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; using rubber spatula, fold gently until just combined and evenly moistened.
12. Turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.
13. Pinch reserved sugar-oat mixture into hazelnut-sized clumps and sprinkle evenly over batter.
14. Bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
15. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.
16. Run knife along cake edges without parchment to release. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut cake and serve.
Yield: Makes (1) 8" square cake
Source: Cook's Illustrated