This special cake combines elements from some of our favorite winter dessert recipes: Marie’s Apple Brownies, Citrus Olive Oil Cake, Pan Forte, and White Chocolate Mousse with Lemon Curd. Making it is a project, but fragrant aromas of the holiday season fill the house and the final product is satisfyingly beautiful and tasty. An excellent morning activity for those who like to cook.
Full disclosure – there are three elements: cake, compote, and icing. Also a nod to baker Chad Robertson who’s conventional recipe for Bohemian Apple Cake provided a bit of a road map.
1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) GF flour mix (yours, ours, or Trader Joe’s)
1 cup (3 oz.) almond flour (remember you can grind your own in a coffee mill)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
5/8 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cup applesauce, room temperature
2 cups peeled and diced apples (about 2 medium – large apples)
1 cup finely cut dried prunes
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 35oF and prepare two 9″ cake pans by lightly oiling and lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (Take the time to properly prepare the pans to avoid disappointment.)
2. Measure the flours, baking soda, xantham gum, salt, and spices into a medium sized bowl and whisk to blend.
3. In a stand mixer beat the eggs until light, slowly add the sugar, and continue beating until thick and light.
4. On low speed slowly add the olive oil to the egg/sugar mixture.
5. Alternately add the flour mixture and apple sauce to the wet ingredients, starting and finishing with the dry ingredients, and scraping down as needed to evenly incorporate all.
6. Add the diced apples, prunes and currants, mixing on low to blend.
7. Fold in the walnuts and evenly distribute the batter between the two pans. (Remember you probably have a scale that will help you accurately compare the amount of batter per pan.)
8. Bake in the center of the oven at 350F for 45 minutes or until the cakes are slightly firm to the touch and have just pulled away from the sides of the pan. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes before turning out onto cake racks. Cool completely.
2 cups organic pitted prunes
1/2 cup red wine
3 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons sugar
The peel of one organic orange (use a vegetable peel to avoid getting the pith)
1 cinnamon stick
DIRECTIONS (while the cake bakes – this can also be done a day ahead):
1. In a heavy sauce pan combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring to blend.
2. Cook over a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. Remove the cinnamon stick, cool and blend in a food processor until pureed. Set aside to cool completely.
2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup bourbon or whiskey
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup (2oz.) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (8 oz.) good quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1. In a small heavy saucepan combine the cider, whiskey, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup. Set aside to cool. (See the note at the bottom to tweak this step.)
2. In a stand mixer beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the cooled chocolate, vanilla, and cider syrup and beat on medium speed until the icing develops (peaks), scraping down as needed to incorporate the butter and chocolate at the bottom.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE (we’re almost there!)
1. Line the edges of a flat cake plate with 4 pieces of waxed paper (this is to make applying the icing and decorative walnuts easier.)
2. Place one cake layer, top down, on the cake plate. Spread with a thin layer of icing. Gently spread half the compote on top of the icing, taking care not to mix the (layers).
3. Spread a thin layer of icing on the TOP of the second cake layer and place it icing side DOWN on the first layer to “sandwich” the prune compote between the icing.
4. Spread the rest of the compote on the cake and refrigerate for an hour or so.
5. Remove the chilled cake and ice with the rest of the white chocolate buttercream, beginning with the edges and finishing with the top. Using a small spreading spatula decoratively treat the top. A “Lazy Susan” can be helpful depending on the pattern you want.
6. Gently press finely chopped walnuts onto the side of the cake, using the waxed paper to help you more effectively apply pieces to the bottom edge. When finished, gently tug the waxed paper liners from under the cake, pulling two opposites at a time to keep the cake from shifting on the plate.
7. Refrigerate until 2 hours before serving. We like this with rum raisin gelato or ice cream… a lot.
Note: a time saver, “cheat”, neat trick: When making the icing substitute either 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup apple jelly, melted and cooled, or 1/4 cup of the syrup left from making Citrus Olive Oil Cake. This instead of the reduced apple cider “syrup.”