For the past couple months I've been buying tons of apples from the farmers' market every weekend. I can get varieties that are not available in the supermarket. Arkansas Black, Philo Gold, Wickson, Connell Red, Northern Spy and Spitzenberg just to name a few. Sadly the local apple season is coming to end and I'll have to go back to eating supermarket apples that have been in cold storage for who knows how long before showing up at supermarket for sale.
I recently brought home some red Rome apples from the farmers' market. They were so crisp and juicy. They were labeled as "dry farmed" and I'm not sure if that had anything to do with how delicious they were. Red Rome apples are perfect for this rum raisin apple loaf cake.
This cake is one that I can whip it up in no time at all. It's full of apples and rum soaked raisins. The recipe is from Francois Payard's "Simply Sensational Desserts". I modified it just slightly. The original recipe says to cut the apples in wedges of 2 different sizes and lay them nicely into the cake batter so that when it bakes you'll see the perfect wedges of apples neatly tiled up next to each other. I decided to simplify it by just dicing the apples and mixing them into the batter.
Soaking the raisins in rum keeps them moist and adds a nice flavor to the ordinary raisin. Even if your raisins are very fresh to start, I still recommend soaking them. There's just something magical that happens when you let dried fruit sit in a little bit of booze. But if you are pressed for time you can skip the soaking step and just add the quantity of rum and dry raisins directly to the batter. Either way, the rum is not overwhelming. There's just enough to remind you that it's there.
The area of cake immediately surrounding each apple nugget stays slightly moist from the juicy apple and provides a nice contrast to the cakier parts of the cake. Someone even said it tasted like bits of custard surrounding the apple.
Even though it's optional I highly recommend brushing the baked loaf cake with the apricot glaze. Although the cake is already very moist and will keep well, the glaze helps retain moisture longer. And it adds a lovely shine to this simple cake.
Thanks to everyone for comments about their favorite vegetable in my zucchini post. And the winner of the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook giveaway is Claire. She also loves zucchini. Congratulations Claire!
Rum Raisin Apple Cake
(adapted from Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark rum, such as Myers brand
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp (1 stick/113 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Approximately 3/4 to 1 pound of apples, peeled, cored and diced (juicy varieties work best like Rome or Fuji apples)
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess flour.
2. Bring a small pan of water to a boil, add the raisins, and boil 1 minute. Drain and repeat the process. Drain the raisins well a second time and place in a small bowl. Add the rum to the warm raisins and stir. Set aside.
3. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and confectioner's sugar on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
5. Mix in the raisins and any rum that did not get absorbed by the raisins. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until blended. Mix in the diced apples.
6. Spoon the batter into your prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.
7. Bake the cake at 325F for 60-65 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Unmold the cake and turn it right side up. The cake could still be quite hot so take care.
8. Make the glaze. Place the apricot preserves in a small heatproof, microwavable bowl. Microwave on high power for 20-30 seconds, until just bubbling. Push the warmed preserves through a fine meshed sieve. Gently brush the apricot glaze over the top of the hot cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting it into slices.