APPLE OF MY EYE
Mmmm...Autumn is definitely apple season. Warm, glazed coffee cake with the surprising tang of orange, a masterful hint of cardomom and nutmeg. Slice into the cake and see the golden apple filling and catch the scent of cinnamon. What comforts us more on these chilly fall days than a slice of homemade cake laden with apples and filling our home with the aroma of the holidays? I can't imagine ever rolling out of bed so early in the morning as to be able to put this recipe together in time to serve it for a weekday breakfast before everyone rushes off to school or office, but it is the perfect project for a lazy Saturday or Sunday morning. Watching the dough rise. Slicing apples. Braiding, waiting and baking. And watching their faces as you put it on the table next to the pot of hot coffee and tall glasses of cold milk for that afternoon snack or holiday treat.
This is a wonderful recipe given to me by my friend Johey, though I don’t remember where she found it. I have doodled around with it a bit, mostly changing filling proportions and doing away with a confusing addition of butter cookie crumbs. The dough is surprisingly easy to make and so soft, silky and sensuous to handle. The filling is made in a flash, using firm pie apples, tangy and sweet, able to hold their shape after cooking. Try and find oranges and lemons that have not been treated as you will be using the zest.
GLAZED APPLE LATTICE COFFEE CAKE
2 Tbs warm water
1 pkg. (7 g) active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbs sugar
5 Tbs (75 g) unsalted butter, room temperature if possible
1 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp finely grated orange zest (about 1 large orange, reserving the orange for the juice)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 to 2 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbs (30 g) unsalted butter
6 Tbs brown sugar
3 - 5 medium sized apples*, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
*use pie apples that will hold their shape even after cooking, slightly tangy, sweet tasty apples. I’ve used Jubilee as well as Golden for pies, and thought they hold their shape and are the perfect texture when baked, they are somewhat bland in flavor to me. I use Reine de Reinette in France which cook down the same as Goldens but have much more flavor, sweet and just tart enough.
* the original recipe calls for 3 apples, but I (as well as my family) found that it just wasn’t enough. We could barely tell that the apples were there. So I use up to 5.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 to 2 Tbs fresh-squeezed orange juice
Prepare the dough :
Place the warm water and yeast in a small cup and let stand until yeast dissolves and is frothy, about 6 minutes.
Put the milk, sugar, butter and salt in a small saucepan and heat gently over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. The mixture should be just warm. Pour this into a large mixing bowl; cool to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in yeast mixture, egg yolks, orange zest and spices. With a rubber spatula, fold in 2 cups of the flour until it the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently, adding extra flour, tablespoon by tablespoon, until your dough is smooth and silky.
Place the dough in a large clean dough. Cover with plastic wrap, placing it against the surface of the dough to keep it from forming a crust, then cover the dough with a dish towel. Place in a warm, draft-free area and allow to rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
Prepare the filling :
Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until you have a thick, grainy sauce, about 1 minute. Add the apple slices, tossing until all the slices are pretty much coated with the sugar-butter. Cook until the apples are tender and the sauce has been reduced to a glaze, about 7 minutes. Mix in the grated zests and the spices and toss until the apples are evenly coated. Cool the filling at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
Assemble the cake :
Roll the dough out onto a well-floured surface into a 14 x 12-inch rectangle, the longer side perpendicular to your body. I then carefully slide the rolled-out dough onto a large length of oven-safe parchment paper and then, if need be, make a quick size adjustment with the rolling pin. Arrange the apple mixture down the center of the dough, leaving an inch border at the top and bottom ends and about 3 or 4 inches on each side. With a sharp knife and starting about an inch from the apples, slice straight out to the edge of the dough at 1-inch intervals, making about 13 strips down each side (don’t panic, I use my trusty tape measure). Starting at the top, fold the strips of dough over the filling, on a slight angle and alternating, overlapping the strips, to form a lattice down the center. Seal the open ends of the dough at the top and bottom.
Carefully slide or lift parchment paper and place with the cake on a baking sheet. (If you don’t have parchment paper, make sure your baking sheet is well greased) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully slide a spatula underneath and lift up just to make sure that the underside is also golden brown.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment with the cake onto a cooling rack/grill. (If you didn’t use parchment, slide a spatula under the cake to make sure it is loosened and slide off of the baking sheet. Cool for 30 minutes.
For the glaze :
Mix the powdered sugar with 1 1/2 to 2 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice. Stir until well blended and a thick glaze forms. Drizzle over the cake.
This cake stays fresh for a few days to enjoy for breakfast or snack.
I made two batches of the sweet dough yesterday, because, truth be told, I was afraid that the first would not rise. So I let the second dough rise then I put it in the fridge over night. This afternoon, I took it out and let it come to room temperature, then cut it into 12 pieces and formed them into buns. I placed the buns on parchment paper on a baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3/4 hour. I then brushed each with an egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 Tbs milk) and sprinkled with sugar. Then I baked them until golden, about 25 minutes. An added treat!