pumpkin apple crumble cake

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in a fresh air interview once, jon stewart talked about how the regimented structure of his show gives him and the other comedians the "freedom to improvise."

i think that totally applies to cooking.

the somm recently asked me what i thought my biggest strength is in the kitchen. my answer? i'm great at picking recipes. i love just scrolling through epicurious, blogs or other recipe websites, seeing what is out there, reading reviews, and learning what worked or didn't for other home cooks. i especially love good food blogs, like pastry studio, that offer really explicit tips on what did and didn't work. add all this up, and when i start a recipe, i feel informed. i feel empowered to improvise and make the recipe my own.

to the extent that there are rules about food blogging, posting recipes you know will work is one of them. professionals, especially if they write their own recipes, try said recipe at least a few times so they know it'll work. last thing you want is to post a dud. or to hurt someone.

honestly, i just don't have that kind of attention span. there is usually some new interesting recipe on the horizon i'm dying to try. it has to be a pretty special dish to get a second try.

same rule generally applies to international travel. this has led to a slight misunderstanding with the somm about how we totally should go back to brazil . . . just maybe after we've seen turkey. and argentina. a girl needs priorities.

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after all that build up, i have a recipe for you that is, in fact, a tried and true standby in my winter kitchen. this recipe works. and it is easily tweakable. best of all, this cake is GOOD. it has the best of all dessert worlds with a dense, moist pumpkin cake, topped with tender, cinnamony apples, topped with spicy, crunchy streusel.

cake meets pie meets crumble meets heaven.

with none of the cherpumple nonsense.

i mean, check out those layers.

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here are my tips for this cake. use a good sturdy apple, like a granny smith or a honey crisp. you don't want to ruin it with soggy apples. which also means that you don't want to saute the apples too long – they'll continue to cook in the oven. you really just want to get a little carmelization from the sugar.

also, use a springform pan, it'll make it so much easier to get a pretty looking slice.

serve warm or room temperature. a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a nice addition, but not necessary.

also, this is GREAT for breakfast. i mean, it has two types of fruit. and oatmeal. done.

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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Cake

Adapted from Bon Apetit

Apples

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 large Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped (Honeycrisps tend to run large, but more apple won't hurt you here)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Melt butter and brown sugar in a large skillet, add apples and cinnamon.  Saute for about 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside and let cool a little.

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature and cut in pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if you like
  • 1/3 or more cup chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 cup oats

Preheat oven to 350, spray a 9 inch springform cake pan with baking or cooking spray.

Beat together flour, brown sugar, butter and salt until it looks like coarse meal. Set aside 2/3 cup as streusel base. Add walnuts, candied ginger and oats and stir. I tend to be fast and loose with my streusel, so if you want more oats, be my guest.

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, sour cream, remaining sugar, spices and baking soda. Feel free to mix up the spices! Cardamom would be nice! Add to flour mixture, beating just until smooth.  Add eggs and combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Top with apple mixture. Top with streusel.

Bake about an hour or until a toothpick (a long one!) or knife comes out clean.  Let cool before removing springform.

Serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

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