Tag Archives: apple

This German Apple Cake Cured Me of My Apple Fatigue

Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

We’re in the midst of Apple Season, the longest season of any fruit that exists. It stretches from late summer to late winter, and is rivaled in duration perhaps only by Potato Season, but potatoes aren’t even a fruit. So…back to apples.

It is easy to get frustrated at apples, to take out your I’m-so-over-this-weather and why-isn’t-there-anything-else-at-the-market energy on them. I, for one, just stuffed my face with apple pie for several days in a row, made Apple Pandowdy twice for recent dinner parties, and had slices of this guy and this guy in the test kitchen. And this is not to mention the countless apples I have sunk my teeth into as a straight-up snack. I’m over it! Or at least I thought I was over it—until I met this Buttery German Apple Cake.

Jacques Pépin Peels an Apple

The recipe came to us courtesy of a BA reader, submitted among hundreds for our annual Reader Recipe Challenge. It won for a reason. Listen, those other desserts I just mentioned are fantastic. You should make them. But there’s something about this cake that stands out, and this is actually because it is so much more than a cake. It is like a cake and a cookie and a tart all in one! Tell me you’re not intrigued.

The base is a dough made from sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, flour, egg, vanilla, and butter. You mush it all together in one bowl with a fork and then your hands. No equipment required. It should be a large, soft mass, almost of sugar cookie consistency. You press that down into a buttered springform pan with a removable bottom. Next spread a thin layer of apricot preserves over the surface, which is a genius way of giving a subtle, slightly different taste and ensuring a glossy look to the finished product.

Epi Apples

Don’t get mad at apples! Just make this tart!!

Then comes the topping, quartered apples sliced into shingles up until the very bottom so that each piece holds together. Shingles are beautiful! They make the dessert look fancy without much effort. You arrange those on top, pressing down slightly, and bake it. The dough puffs up a bit around the apples from the baking powder and what results is a crisp, golden brown bottom, a chewier middle from the release of liquid in the preserves and the fruit, and then slightly softened (but not mushy!) apples as the crown of the cake. It is a delight of textures (especially when served with whipped cream), and is the best way to cap off a cold weather dinner party that I know of.

This is all to say: Next time you think you’re done with apples, think again.

This way, to German Apple Cake bliss!



Cheesy Apple-Pepper Scones

Meanwhile, spread sugar in a medium skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally from the outside edge toward the center, until sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup turns deep amber in color, about 3 minutes more. Carefully add apples to pan and spread in a single layer. Remove pan from heat and let sit until apples release some juices, absorb the caramel, and cool, about 30 minutes. Some sugar will crystallize, don’t worry, it’s supposed to!


Naked Apple Tart

Core apples and slice crosswise into rings (do not peel them unless you absolutely insist).

apple tart

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens


Transfer to a medium bowl. Add lemon juice, sugar, and salt and toss to coat. Arrange apples into chilled crust in rough concentric circles without making a big mound in the center (they should come up about ½” over top of pan; snack on any extra pieces left in the bowl). Brush or drizzle brown butter over apples (use all of it). Place tart on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, rotating pan halfway through, until crust is deep golden brown and apples on surface are softened and starting to take on a little color at edges, 55–65 minutes. Do not underbake. Let tart cool on baking sheet until warm, then remove ring and cut into wedges.


This Glazed and Flaky Apple Tart Will Make You Forget All About Pie

I’ve heard you should never wait until the day of a big, fancy dinner to try out a recipe you’ve never made before. And yet, that’s never stopped me from baking a brand new (at least to me) dessert from Bon Appétit each Thanksgiving, much to my family’s chagrin. There was the year I over-pulsed the hazelnuts for this Pumpkin-Caramel Tart and spent half an hour carefully blotting away the nut grease that kept seeping out of my oily baked crust. Then there was the time I opted for this Cranberry-Lime Pie, which looked GREAT until I tried to slice it. Can you even cut something the consistency of pudding? But on my quest for redemption in 2018, I picked this new Glazed and Flaky Apple Tart and then proceeded to break my own rule by testing it out first.

This is the part where I’m supposed to convince you that you NEED to make this apple tart, and honestly I’m not even sure where to begin. So I’ll say this: It’s likely one of the only times you’ll feel extreme satisfaction while watching something you’ve spent hours making completely crumble apart.

apple tart poached apples

Michael Graydon

Apples, face down in a complex maple syrup–brandy–vanilla situation.

If that’s not convincing, there’s this: The apples are halved and cored (no chopping! No slicing!), then roasted in a maple syrup-brandy-vanilla mixture that infuses the fruit with lots of complex, toasty flavor. These tender apples then get laid atop a delightfully crunchy bed of stir-together almond streusel. But the real pièce de résistance is that you make your own freakin’ amazing PUFF PASTRY, like some kind of dough god.

True puff pastry is made via a technique called lamination, in which pastry dough is repeatedly layered with butter then folded and rolled again and again until you end up with endless layers that tower and puff up as they bake—this is what gives croissants, palmiers, and turnovers their irresistibly buttery-crisp texture. This recipe’s streamlined method requires far fewer fold-and-rolls, but achieves a similarly impressive effect. I have no better baking skills than your hobbyist cake baker, but I came out of this tart-making experience feeling like I could school Pierre Hermé in a croissant-off, which is how I imagine this tart’s genius mastermind, Claire Saffitz, feels every day. Here’s the thing I never realized until I made this recipe: If you can make pie crust, you can make puff pastry.

apple tart process 3

Photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Kalen Kaminski

To create layers and layers of flaky pastry, fold the dough into thirds like a letter then roll out into a smooth sheet with a rolling pin.

I learned a few more tricks from Claire that made my finished tart look like it belonged behind the display case at a high-end bakery. 1) She suggests using a melon baller for the most neatly cored apple halves, but I haven’t seen a melon baller since 2002 and have found that a round teaspoon also works perfectly. w) Use a ruler when slicing off thin dough strips from the sides of your tart dough to create the neatest border. 3) And don’t worry about arranging your roasted apple halves in a perfect 3×4 grid within your tart—in fact, the more askew and random they are, the prettier and more natural the final effect. As my test-run tart baked in the Test Kitchen oven at 6:30 p.m. a few weeks ago, scenting the entire room with maple and vanilla as it cooked, I kept cracking open the oven door and screaming at Claire over my shoulder, “It’s WORKING!!!”

apple tart streusel

Michael Graydon

A crunchy bed of streusel before it’s topped with baked apples.

There are few things I’ll do differently when I make this for Thanksgiving. One of them is to use medium apples as, uh, the recipes calls for, and not the cute, slightly-too-tiny apples I acquired during an apple-picking sojourn. I’ll also break up the project over the course of a couple of days. Making it all in a single day is an excellent way to procrastinate for 6 hours at work, but it wasn’t the most effective way of going about the recipe. Next time, I’ll make the dough and roast the apples a day ahead (though you can make them up to two days ahead) and assemble and bake on Thanksgiving day. I’ll then cut it into slabs and serve it with scoops of vanilla ice cream. I’ll probably eat seconds standing up in the kitchen watching my dad do the dishes and start his turkey-corn chowder with all the leftover meat. And if I’m lucky enough to wake up to thirds for breakfast, well, there’s a high chance that last night’s pint of ice cream will be joining me at the table.