Ottolenghi’s Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting | A Sweet SpoonfulHere we are: a rare, quiet afternoon with blocks strewn all over the living room floor, leftover coconut rice and cucumber salad for lunch, and the front yard strewn with fall leaves. I’m behind on business bookkeeping and was going to try to borrow a neighbor’s lawnmower to mow our back grass, but instead thought I’d sit down and share a recipe with you, which I’ve been working away at slowly instead of rushing urgently, feeling like you all MUST HAVE CAKE in your life this very minute. I mean, don’t get me wrong: this cake is a MUST HAVE CAKE kind of cake, but after listening to an episode of Death, Sex and Money with Ellyn Burstyn talking about the importance of having “should-less days,” I’ve taken more time than usual with this one, giving myself a little more grace with all the niggling “shoulds” that prevail.

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting | A Sweet Spoonful Last weekend we had a bunch of friends over to celebrate Sam’s birthday with games and cocktails. As is typical of 1920’s Tudor homes, our dining room seats all of four people comfortably (six if you squeeze), so I brought a card table home from Marge and we set up camp in the living room, eventually fogging up the windows as the night went on, listening to records, drinking wine and hard cider out of paper cups and eating thick slices of layer cake: the carrot cake I always make for Sam’s birthday (and truly, the best I have ever had) — and a new chocolate cake recipe from Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, SweetApple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting | A Sweet Spoonful I knew I’d make carrot cake; that’s a birthday must around here, but a few days before the party, when we received enough RSVP’s to realize I’d need to bake two cakes, I started flipping through Ottolenghi’s book for more inspiration; the Take Home Chocolate Cake and the Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting caught my eye. Ultimately I dove into Camp Chocolate, and the day after the party as we were cleaning up, ever-so slightly hungover (although Sam always avoids this fate) with a high-octane shirtless toddler racing around the house, I was both pleased we didn’t have a crumb of cake left (they liked it!) and dismayed that we had not a crumb of cake left (I’d liked it, too!).

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting | A Sweet Spoonful The next day I hit the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up a few apple cake ingredients, and practiced a particularly “should-less” day while Oliver was at daycare: baking, photographing and eating cake. I can’t recommend it enough. While we did end up sharing quite a bit with friends (let’s be real: it’s a big cake and there are only two cake-eating adults here in the house), I have to say that it keeps well in the fridge for almost a week, and there’s something really nice about slicing off a small wedge of lightly-spiced apple cake with rolling peaks of maple frosting at the end of a long day when the kitchen is (finally) clean, the evening is crisp, and the days are getting noticeably shorter, week by week.

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting

Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting

  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Prep time: 30 mins
  • Cook time: 55 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 25 mins

While Ottolenghi advises using Granny Smith or Bramley apples, I used big Honeycrisps here instead, and it turned out wonderful. You may feel like it’s a lot of apples, but it’s supposed to be and they all soften and hunker down a bit, so you’re doing everything right. Because I just can’t help it, I added some buckwheat and whole wheat pastry flour here instead of using solely all purpose as the recipe instructs; the flavor of buckwheat with apples is one of my favorites, and given the proportions here, it’s not at all overwhelming. Try it! That said, feel free to use 100% all-purpose flour if you’d rather not pick up additional whole grain flours. Last, the recipe calls for you to slice this cake in half and frost in between the layers and then on the top. But I loved the stature (so tall!) of the cake as well as an extra thick layer of frosting on the top, so I kept it simpler. Of course, you could forego the frosting altogether and just do a dusting of confectioners sugar. You choose whichever makes you happy.

Lightly adapted from: Sweet

Ingredients

For the Cake:

2/3 cup (100g) sultanas (golden raisins) or regular raisins
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 1/2 cups (200g) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (60g) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (95g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large Bramley or Granny Smith apples (1 lb 12 oz / 800g)
1 cup (200 g) unrefined sugar
2/3 cup (160ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)

For the Frosting:

7 tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1/2 packed cup plus 1 tablespoon (100g) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup
7 3/4 ounces (220g) cream cheese, room temperature

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Grease the base and sides of a 9-inch/23-cm round springform pan and line with parchment paper. The paper should rise 1-inch/3 cm above the sides of the pan (Note: I don’t own this size springform, so I just used a regular 9-inch cake pan, sprayed it with cooking spray, lined the sides with parchment and made sure the parchment extended an inch above the rim of the pan, and sprayed it again for good measure. This worked great.)Set aside.

Place the raisins and 2/3 cup (160ml) of the water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat until all the water has been absorbed, then set aside.

Sift all of the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a bowl and set aside. Peel and core the apples, then cut into 1-inch/3cm dice and set aside in a separate bowl.

Place the sugar, olive oil, whole eggs, vanilla and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed for 6-7 minutes, until the mixture is light in color, doubled in size and has thickened a little. Don’t be tempted to increase the speed of the machine when mixing; this will create air bubbles, which you don’t want. Remove the bowl from the machine and, using a large spatula, add the sifted dry ingredients and gently fold to combine. Add the apples, raisins, and the remaining 1/3 cup (80ml) water and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in a separate clean bowl and whisk to form soft peaks; there’s only a small amount of egg white here so you might need to do this by hand (I used electric hand beaters). Gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the cake mix, then scrape the batter into the pan. Level the top with a spatula and bake for 55 -60 minutes (slightly longer if using Granny Smiths as they take longer to soften), or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan.

To make the maple frosting: While the cake is cooling, place the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light and airy, then add the cream cheese, a quarter at a time. Continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until thick and smooth.

When the cake is completely cool, remove it from the pan. Spoon the frosting on top and spread evenly.

Storage notes: Covered in plastic wrap, the (unfrosted) cake lasts for one week. Bring it to room temperature and frost it on the day you’ll serve it. Alternatively, we found the cake was just fine for 4 days, frosted, when covered in the fridge and the flavor actually improves the second day.

Comments

  1. Sam

    I would have married this cake had I met her before you. And then I'd have asked you to marry in. This cake was amaaaaaazing.

    1. Pam

      So sweet!!

      1. Pam

        ...I mean Sam's thoughts.

  2. melissa

    this looks lovely! i promised my daughters we'd do some baking together next weekend and i'm going to suggest we make this. :) i don't have a springform pan though...do you think it would work to divide it between two cake pans? obviously the baking time would be a bit less.

    1. megang

      Hi, Melissa! I'm so glad you asked. I don't either and I just used a 9-inch circular pan and sprayed it really well with cooking spray then lined the sides with parchment and made sure they stuck up about an inch over the pan (then I sprayed them again for good measure). I was thinking next time of doing it in two 9-inch pans and then you could frost in between, too ... you'd just really have to watch the baking time as it'll bake a lot quicker. Maybe for your first go of it just try it in the 9-inch pan like I did? Thanks for the reminder about that, and I'll add a note in the recipe now. Enjoy!

  3. Courtney

    I went to Ottolenghi and Goh's talk in Seattle last week, and this is the first recipe I marked. I have a fridge full of honeycrisps, so thanks for the permission to go ahead.

  4. Carla

    This looks amazing and i really want to try it... but the lazy person in me always tries to avoid recipes with beaten egg whites... what happens if you use the entire egg? I know i know, im so lame, but im curious ;)

    1. megang

      Hi, Carla: I'm afraid a whole egg will be quite a bit different - the beaten egg white helps give this cake a lot of lift. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news! I didn't do mine by hand if it makes you feel any better ... I used hand beaters and it worked just great. I hope you enjoy!

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