Apple Calvados Cake
10 to 12 servings
Adapted from The London Cookbook by Aleksandra CrapanzanoYou’re welcome to substitute another liquor for the Calvados, such as whiskey, apple jack, brandy, Cognac, or rum. If you want to make it without the liquor, you could use apple juice well-spiked with fresh lemon juice, to add some acidity, and perhaps a touch of vanilla extract.The recipe suggests using “baking” apples, such as Granny Smith or Bramley. I rifled through the bin at my market where they sell less-attractive pommes à cuire, or baking apples, at a discount (which I can’t resist), selecting ones that felt firm and were varieties I know were on the tart side.Aleksandra told me when I asked her about the quantities before I gave it a go, as it seemed like it was a lot of batter. “This is a big cake,” she replied, noting that she had reduced the amount of sugar in the original recipe, and I tried it with even less, as well. I was on the fence about whether I missed the extra sweetness so if you want to make it as she presented the cake, use 2 cups (400g) of sugar, but you could also reduce it to 1 1/2 cups (350g) if you want it less-sweet. For the record, I preferred it with the full amount.(Because I am frequently asked about making a recipe gluten-free, reducing the sugar, and changing pan sizes, I updated my page: Baking Ingredients and Substitutions to answer those questions, and more.)This make a big, generous cake, very moist, and rich with apple flavor. The recipe in the book says it make “6 Fergus portions, which are always generous.” I don’t want to infer that I’m not generous, but I found it served about ten or twelve people…without anyone thinking I was stingy. – David
3 1/4 cups (455g) flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
generous pinch of salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups (300g-400g) sugar, (see headnote)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as peanut, canola, or sunflower
1/4 cup (60ml) Calvados
1 cup (140g) walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 baking apples (about 1 1/2 pounds, 700g), peeled, cored, and diced
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Generously butter a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan, or 10-inch (25cm) round cake pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the eggs. In a slow, steady stream – as if you were making mayonnaise – whisk in the oil, stirring constantly as you pour, to keep it emulsified. Whisk in the Calvados.
4. Using a spatula, mix in the dry ingredients, then fold in the diced apples and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 90 minutes. Because the cake is so dense, it may feel done on top (and a toothpick inserted into the center may come out clean), but it will likely need to full baking time for the cake to be cooked through.

Serving: This moist cake can be served on its own, or with a spoonful of crème fraîche, or ice cream, if you wish.

Storage: I found this cake will keep for 2 to 3 days at room temperature. I would avoid freezing this cake as the apples may become soggy.