Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake

I went away this past weekend to beautiful, bucolic Prince Edward County on the shores of Lake Ontario, with a great group of friends from my fitness class community, FitnChips.  We spent the day cycling around a pastoral paradise, vibrant yellow fall leaves shimmering in the bright blue sky, making friends with pigs and farm dogs and stopping at local farms and vineyards along the way. The company was a perfect blend of ridiculous and inspiring and I returned home with cheese curds, farm fresh eggs and a couple of pecks of apples.  I would have bought bushels, but my small urban home won't allow for the storage of such quantities.  

I couldn't wait to bake something with the spy and honey crisp apples that perfumed the air in the car the whole way home. Almost  immediately I thought of Dorrie Greenspan's friend Marie-Hélène's French apple cake I had read about here, here and in my Food 52 Genius Recipes cookbook.  Something in the description grabbed me and it was simply this:  this cake is "more apple than cake". Yum.  Also, the recipe calls for multiple types of apples because they provide a diversity of flavours and textures.  I had the two types I'd bought in The County, plus I had a third mystery kind that our generous and gregarious school crossing guard had given us the other day, so I tossed one of those in for good measure.   

Apparently Marie-Hélène uses dark rum in her cake, but being the lousy pirate that I am, I have no rum.  However, I do have many little bottles of Calvados, a French apple brandy that my Aunt, a longtime inhabitant of France, gives to me every year at Christmas.  I used this in lieu of rum, which I think took the apple flavour to the next level.  Then I served it with a dollop of whipped cream and crème fraîche, because they were in my fridge and because that's what David Lebovitz recommends.  

This is a cake that truly celebrates apple season, it's so simple to put together, delicious anytime of day and it calls for only a handful of ingredients.  For breakfast, tea time or an elegant after dinner dessert I will be making this fragrant, moist French apple cake with many more apple pecks in my future.  

From Dorrie Greenspan via Food 52 Genius Recipes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour  (I suspect you could easily use Gluten Free flour here because it's such a moist cake) 
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. dark rum (or Calvados)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 a cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.  Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350F.

2.  Whisk together the flour and baking powder.

3.  Peel and core apples and chop into 1 to 2 inch chunks.  

4.  Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until foamy and then add in sugar and whisk for another minute more.  Add in the vanilla and alcohol of choice. 

5.  Add half of the flour mixture, half the butter and then repeat.  Mix gently so that the batter is smooth, but not thick. Fold in the apples with a rubber spatula.

6.  Scrape into prepared spring form pan and use the spatula to even out the batter in the pan.

7.  Bake on a cookie sheet lined with more parchment for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.