Apple Kuchen Recipe by Joan Nathan
Cookbook review by Tracey Zabar
During Rosh Hashanah, some families dip apples in honey to symbolize a sweet year. Others share honey cake and apple kuchen. Our family does it all. This apple cake is delightful and has become an instant classic in our house.
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Recipe by Joan Nathan
yield: 8 to 10 servings
1 cup (2 sticks/226 grams) unsalted butter or 1 cup(235 ml) vegetable or melted coconut oil, more for greasing pan
1 1/3 cups (175 grams) plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups (270 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 Gala or other flavorful apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 8 cresecent slices, about 3 cups, divided
½ teaspoon Calvados or other apple brandy
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or anise seeds
American-born and-bred Daniel Rose is one of the most successful chefs in Paris today. I met him years ago and since then have delighted in his food as I watch his restaurant, his talent, and his fame grow.
One of the things I like best about Daniel is that he has not forgotten his Chicago roots and what he learned from his grandmother. The first time I visited him in his kitchen, he baked his grandmother’s apple cake, which I call here apple kuchen. In place of the apples, though, he used yellow plums he had found at the market, cutting them into quarters because some were sweeter than others, and he did not want anyone to get an inferior bite. As he added a pinch of anise instead of the cinnamon her recipe called for, he said, “I don’t want to make it too different. I want it to taste like my grandmother’s.” I serve this for Rosh Hashanah with the first apples of the season.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter or oil, and set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 8 ounces butter or oil, 1 1⁄3 cups sugar, and the salt. Mix until blended. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour and baking powder until thoroughly mixed. Fold in about a cup of the apples, and spread batter evenly in the pan.
3. In a large bowl, toss the remaining apples with the Calvados or other apple brandy, ginger, and cinnamon or anise seeds. Arrange the apple slices in closely fitting concentric circles on top of the dough; you may not need all the slices. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over the apples.
4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake dough comes out clean and apples are golden and tender, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: This cake, when it is made with vegetable oil instead of butter, is similar to the “Jewish Apple Cake” found in many church cookbooks throughout America, and was brought to this country by Polish immigrants, like my mother-in-law.