2017-02-18 / Food

A cake, a photo, a plea for help

By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer

Ladies and gentlemen, I need your help.

Please keep me in your thoughts, prayers or whatever else it is you do, this week. Rarely do I ask for help, and very rarely do I beg — I am a strong, independent person — but I recently entered several photos into a contest for the opportunity to be featured in my favorite food writer’s new cookbook.

Melissa Clark, my sole cooking inspiration and the reason I began writing about food, is releasing her new cookbook, “Dinner: Changing the Game,” in March, and those who pre-ordered the book will also receive a “cook booklet” of additional recipes, including the apple buttermilk loaf cake printed below.

Clark has solicited photos of the cake from fans on social media, her favorite of which will be used for the booklet. I submitted four photos (including the two you see on this page) by the Feb. 10 deadline and have yet to hear back.

ALAN BENNETT/Journal TribuneALAN BENNETT/Journal Tribune

So, I beg you, send me your magic, your voodoo and your good juju in hopes that I at least get some peace of mind, good or bad.

But about this cake — it is delicious. With a dense yet tender crumb, it’s a fantastic and not-too-heavy way to finish off any meal. It would also make a good snack on these blustery winter days.

The buttermilk in this recipe gives the cake an undeniably tasty tang, which offsets the sweetness of the apple, while the lemon zest perfumes the cake with intense floral allure. Be sure not to skip out on the liquor; it adds wonderful depth of flavor and complements the nutmeg and vanilla.

Select any crisp apple for this cake. Clark herself recommends Winesap apples, although I selected a Honeycrisp apple for my adaptation.

Perhaps the best part of this recipe is just how simple it is to make: one bowl, one whisk and virtually no cleanup make this a great and easy weeknight treat.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

Apple Buttermilk Loaf Cake

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes plus cooling time

1 cup granulated sugar
⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon brandy or rum (optional)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, more for pan
1 large apple, peeled
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350°F and butter an 8 ½- by 4 ½-inch loaf pan. Cut apple into quarters; core, then dice ¾ of the apple into ½-inch pieces (you should have 1 ¾ cups diced). Slice remaining quarter in half, then thirds (you should have 6 slices). Reserve.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, ⅔ cup buttermilk, eggs, brandy, and vanilla. Whisk in flour, baking powder, lemon zest, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Fold in butter, then diced apples. Scrape into loaf pan; arrange apple slices on top and bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife or offset spatula around edges and flip onto a wire rack. Invert (so apple slices are on top) and cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Pour evenly over cooled loaf, let set, then slice and serve.

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