French Apple Cake with Brown Butter

I almost made this custardy apple cake instead of an apple pie for our Thanksgiving feast. Then I realized that it was a better plan to make both! ūüėČ We enjoyed the cake on Thanksgiving Eve- perfect. I loved that this version incorporated browned butter.

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Erica Bruce. I modified the method and substituted apple cider for the brandy. I would recommend baking the cake the morning it will be served because it requires an extended cooling time prior to slicing and serving.

Yield: One 9-inch cake (about 8 to 10 servings)

  • 8 T (1 stick) salted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 4 apples) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound (about 2 apples) Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 156 g (12 T) white sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 T apple cider, brandy or Calvados
  • 86 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the oven to 375¬ļF, preferably on convection, with a rack in the middle position.
  2. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with butter, dust evenly with flour, then tap out the excess.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids at the bottom are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. (I used a 12-inch stainless steel all-in-one pan.)
  4. Pour into a small heatproof bowl without scraping out the skillet. The remaining butter in the pan is used to sauté the apples.
  5. Stir the allspice into the browned butter and set aside.
  6. Add all of the apples, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt to the still-hot skillet and set over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture released by the apples has evaporated and the slices are beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the apple cider (or brandy) and cook until evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds.
  8. Transfer to a large plate, spread in an even layer and refrigerate uncovered until cool to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  10. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and 9 tablespoons of the remaining sugar.
  11. Gradually whisk in the browned butter.
  12. Add the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth; the batter will be very thick.
  13. Add the cooled apples and fold until evenly coated with batter.
  14. Transfer to the prepared springform pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  15. Bake until deeply browned, about 30 minutes on convection or up to 35 to 40 minutes in a standard oven.
  16. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.
  17. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Note: Don‚Äôt slice the cake until it has fully cooled; if it is at all warm, the texture at the center will be too soft.

Mini Banana Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze

One more baked doughnut treat to share. This version can (dangerously) be made very easily with one overripe banana. ūüėČ More fun than banana bread!

The recipe was adapted from chiselandfork.com. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and modified the method. The fabulous brown butter glaze was essential.

Yield: 8 mini-doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:

  • 1/2¬†cup¬†all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4¬†cup¬†light brown sugar
  • 1¬†tsp¬†baking powder
  • 1/2¬†tsp¬†ground cinnamon
  • 1/4¬†tsp¬†ground nutmeg
  • 1/4¬†tsp coarse¬†salt
  • 1/2¬†cup¬†mashed banana (1 large banana)
  • 1¬†large egg, beaten
  • 2¬†T¬†unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¬†T¬†milk (I used 1%)
  • 1¬†tsp pure¬†vanilla extract

For the Brown Butter Glaze:

  • 4 T (1/4¬†cup) unsalted¬†butter
  • 4 to 5 T¬†confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1¬†tsp¬†vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt

To Make the Doughnuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 375¬įF, preferably on convection. Spray 8 wells of a mini-doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Add mashed banana, egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract and stir until just combined.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the prepared 8 wells of the pan, about 3 scoops of batter per well. Using an offset spatula spread evenly. (Alternatively, place batter in ziploc bag and squeeze out air. Cut corner of bag. Pipe the batter evenly in the pan.)
  5. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let rest on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Brown Butter Glaze:

  1. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams and has a nutty aroma, about 5-7 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof, shallow bowl to stop the cooking process.
  2. Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Add enough sugar to reach desired consistency.
  3. Whisk in a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.
  4. Dip each doughnut in the glaze and place back on cooling rack.
  5. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple cider doughnuts are one of my favorite autumn treats. A tasty baked version reduces the guilt- a little bit. ūüėČ This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell.

I made mini-doughnuts and madeleines. I must say that we were surprised by how much we enjoyed the apple cider madeleines which were absolutely amazing with crispy edges. The batter could also be baked in a muffin pan.

Yield: 12 mini-doughnuts and 8 madeleines (or 12 muffins)

For the Batter:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4¬†cup/225 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4¬†tsp baking powder
  • 3/4¬†tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2¬†tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 T (140 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4¬†cup/165 grams light brown sugar
  • 1/4¬†cup/50 grams granulated sugar
  • 2¬†large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¬†tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2¬†cup/120 milliliters apple cider

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 T unsalted butter

To Make the Doughnuts & Madeleines: (or Muffins)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly grease 2 (6-cavity) doughnut pans and 8 wells of a madeleine pan (or a 12-cup muffin tin) with nonstick spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons/140 grams butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  6. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  8. With the mixer running, add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine.
  9. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is homogeneous.
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared doughnut pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. (I use a small cookie scoop and fill each well with 3 scoops. You can also do this using a disposable piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a 1/2-inch opening cut from one corner.) Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  11. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, about 7 to 9 minutes on convection. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (If you are making muffins, divide batter evenly between the prepared cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.)
  12. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, if making madeleines. (I reduced the oven temperature because my pan has a dark finish.)
  13. Using a small cookie scoop, fill each well with 3 scoops, or until 2/3 full. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  14. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 9 minutes on convection.

To Make the Topping:

  1. While the doughnuts bake, whisk 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl to combine.
  2. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the microwave.
  3. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then unmold them from the pans.
  4. Brush with the melted butter and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm.
  5. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.

Salted Caramel Apple Cookies

Wow. These cookies may be my new favorite autumn dessert. I knew that we would love them when they were described as if “a caramel apple and a snickerdoodle got together and created some seriously delicious magic.” ūüôā

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kelly Janke. I used Kanzi apples. Apparently, any type of apple will work in these cookies.

The original recipe stresses the importance of cooking the apple caramel to the proper consistency. It was a little tricky, but the instructions were very helpful. All of the liquid from the apples is cooked down until it has evaporated, leaving behind a “tacky and pliable” caramel. This wonderful caramel is folded into the cookie dough to create swirls in the finished cookies- fabulous.

Yield: Makes 25 cookies

For the Apple Caramel:

  • 3 medium apples (about 1 1/2 lbs total), peeled, cored (I used 3 (1 lb 6 oz total) Kanzi apples)
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I used freshly ground cardamom, sifted)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the Dough & Assembly:

  • 3 1/2 cups (438 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup, packed (100 g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)

To Make the Apple Caramel:

  1. In a food processor with the grater attachment, coarsely grate apples (or use large holes of a box grater).
  2. Transfer grated apples to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze over a medium bowl to extract all the juice possible. (I just squeezed the grated apples with my clean hands!)
  3. Measure out 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice and set aside (save any leftover apple juice for another use).
  4. Set grated apples aside (you should have about 2 1/2 cups).
  5. Bring sugar, cream of tartar, and reserved 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice to a rapid boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring but swirling pan often, until bubbles slow and caramel turns a deep amber color, 5‚Äď7 minutes.
  6. Remove caramel from heat and stir in butter, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  7. Set pan over medium-low heat and add reserved grated apples, stirring quickly to combine (don‚Äôt worry if the caramel mixture looks like it‚Äôs seizing at first). Cook apple caramel, stirring constantly, until it‚Äôs noticeably stickier, the liquid has evaporated, and it almost forms a ball as you stir, 10‚Äď14 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to continue cooking- if the caramel becomes too dry it will be more of a fruit leather when it cools.)
  8. Scrape apple caramel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Let cool, at least 30 minutes.
  9. Set 1/4 cup apple caramel aside for topping cookies.

To Make the Dough, Assemble, & Bake:

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375¬į. (I used the true convection setting.)
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl to combine.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, starting on low speed, then increasing speed to medium, until combined, about 2 minutes total.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating thoroughly before adding the next, then add vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  6. Add apple caramel and pulse mixer two or three times to swirl caramel throughout dough or fold in caramel using a sturdy rubber spatula (take care not to overmix or else you’ll lose the swirled caramel effect as the cookies bake).
  7. Using a 3 T (#20) cookie scoop portion out 16 balls and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing at least 2″ apart (you will have dough left over for a 2nd batch).
  8. Top each cookie with a few small pieces of reserved apple caramel and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  9. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until golden brown at the edges, 12 to 16 minutes.
  10. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. On cool cookie sheets, repeat process with remaining dough to make 8 (or 9) more cookies.

Do ahead: Cookies can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. (True! Still delicious the next day.)

Summer Fruit Buckle

This very special breakfast treat was more clafoutis or bread pudding-like than coffee cake-like. It was eggy, moist, and loaded with fruit. Practically any combination of summer fruit could be used. I used blueberries, strawberries, and a yellow nectarine. Great.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. The original recipe notes that the sugar can be adjusted by one or two tablespoons, reduced or added, depending upon the sweetness and tartness of the fruit used.

Yield: one 9-inch cake

  • 1/2¬†cup/114 grams (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2¬†cup/100 grams granulated sugar, more for sprinkling
  • 1/4¬†cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 3¬†large eggs, at room temperature
  • finely grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1¬†teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4¬†cups/156 grams all-purpose flour (I used 100g all-purpose flour + 56g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2¬†teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2¬†cups summer berries and/or chopped fruit (a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or use any one kind)(peaches, nectarines, figs, or plums can also be incorporated)(I used 2 cups blueberries + 2 cups strawberries + 1 chopped yellow nectarine)
  • ¬†cinnamon, for dusting, optional
  • ¬†Confectioners‚Äô sugar, for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. (or coat with cooking oil spray)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine.
  6. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Gently fold fruit into the batter, then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
  9. Allow cake to cool, then sprinkle with cinnamon, if using, and confectioners’ sugar.

Blueberry & White Peach Graham Galette

This fabulous galette was oozing with delicious juices. I loved that the crust incorporated crushed graham crackers. It was fabulous with and without vanilla ice cream.

This summer galette recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. I modified the method, used white peaches, and sprinkled the dough with turbinado sugar. I weighed the dry ingredients as well.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Dough:

  • 4 graham crackers (about 2 oz)
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 10 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Filling & to Finish:

  • 2 large peaches (about 12 oz), halved, pitted, & thinly sliced (I used white peaches)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1/2 of a large lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • all-purpose flour (for rolling dough)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

To Make the Dough:

  1. Process graham crackers, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until crackers become crumbs and mixture is combined.
  2. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand with some larger pieces remaining.
  3. Add ice water by the tablespoonful, pulsing after each addition, until evenly moistened and dough holds together when squeezed (2‚Äď4 tablespoons).
  4. Pat into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap tightly in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. (I made the dough 2 days in advance.)

To Make the Filling & to Finish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400¬į, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss peach slices, blueberries, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Unwrap dough and roll out between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap or parchment to a 12″ round. The round will be approximately 1/8-inch thick.
  4. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper the size of a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Arrange fruit on top, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border.
  6. Lift dough edges up and over fruit, pleating as needed.
  7. Using parchment paper, slide galette onto the rimmed baking sheet; chill 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Brush top of pastry with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  9. Dot filling with butter.
  10. Bake galette until fruit is softened and crust is deep golden brown, 40‚Äď50 minutes (some juice may leak out). (Tons of juice leaked out of mine!)
  11. Serve galette warm or at room temperature with scoops of ice cream, if desired.

Nigella Lawson’s Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake

Every year, we make a double batch of strawberry shortcake cookies to share. This year, I had the intention of sharing this cake as well, but…oh my! We ate the entire cake (well, almost) in one sitting. Oops.

My husband said that it was one of his “favorites” and my son described it as “like our homemade strawberry ice cream- but warm.” ‚̧ It was slightly crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and the strawberry filling oozed just perfectly.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Nigella Lawson. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour, unsalted butter, coarse salt, used homemade strawberry-vanilla bean jam in the filling, and modified the baking time.

Although similar to one of our favorites, warm strawberry crumb cake, it was different enough for me to justify indulging in both this strawberry season. ūüôā

Yield: one 9-inch cake

For the Strawberry Purée:

  • 8¬†ounces strawberries
  • 3¬†tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 2¬†teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2¬†teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Cake:

  • vegetable oil or cooking oil spray, for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 3/4¬†cup granulated sugar
  • 1¬†teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 12¬†tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1¬†cup sour cream
  • 1¬†large egg
  • 1¬†tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 2¬†teaspoons Demerara or turbinado sugar

To Prepare Strawberry Purée:

  1. In a blender, combine strawberries and jam. (I used a Vitamix.)
  2. Make a paste of cornstarch and vanilla, and add to blender. Purée until smooth. Set aside.

To Prepare the Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and place on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Sprinkle in butter cubes and incorporate with a pastry blender until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs. Remove 1/2 cup and set it aside.
  5. Combine the sour cream, egg and vanilla in a glass measuring cup. Add to the large flour mixture. Mix well.
  6. Using a little over half the cake batter, drop dollops of batter into pan. Pat batter across bottom of pan and about 1 inch up sides; mixture will be very sticky and somewhat uneven.
  7. Add the strawberry purée, making an even layer across bottom of pan and leaving a rim of dough above it.
  8. Cover with remaining cake mixture.

To Prepare the Crumb Topping and Bake:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine reserved 1/2 cup dough and Demerara sugar or turbinado sugar.
  2. Stir with a fork to mix. Sprinkle evenly over cake.
  3. Bake cake until lightly golden, about 35 minutes in a convection oven or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven. (I baked mine for 37 minutes on convection.)
  4. Cool completely before serving. (We ate it warm! This may have created the oozing filling- which we loved.)

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