Saturday, January 22, 2011
Apple-Blackberry Brown Butter Cake
Life is what happens when you make plans.
Maybe it's just my experience, but that expression seems to sum things up pretty well. Life is unexpected, spontaneous, abrupt, and ever changing despite our feeble attempts to have control of what's going on. I'm not saying we should all drop what we're doing and let fate take over, but I think we all need to respect the idea that no matter how hard we try and plan, schedule, and micromanage our lives, things probably won't go the way we imagined. I certainly didn't plan on taking off the last semester of my senior year and living at home with my parents, but you know? That's how life works sometimes. And if that first phrase is in fact true (which I fully believe it is), then so is this one:
When one door closes, another opens.
Life may change unexpectedly. Some unforeseen turn of events may thwart the plans you had meticulously constructed and destroy your vision of a perfect life. But that's okay. Because nine times out of ten when something doesn't work out the way you had hoped, a new opportunity presents itself. Finding that silver lining is not always easy, you may have to spend time in some dark clouds first. But it's usually there, in the end, so long as you wish to see it.
Which brings me to this cake. Well, not really. This cake has nothing to do with anything I just said, but it is a pretty darn good cake. You should make it. I know blackberries are not in season, but frozen ones are readily available and adapt beautifully in this cake.
I found this recipe from Martha Stewart when I was searching for a dessert to bake some soon-to-be-bad apples into. Martha's kind of my go-to girl when I have bakers block. Her recipes are simple and classic and usually don't call for any weird or pretentious sounding ingredients. However, I did make one very important change to this recipe. Martha says to melt the butter in a saucepan before adding it to the cake. My feelings towards melted butter in baked goods are as follows: if you're already taking the time to melt the butter in the first place, why on earth would you not keep it over the flame for a few minutes longer to make brown butter, which will turn whatever you're making into the greatest dessert of all time? Brown butter is nutty and caramely and everything regular melted butter hopes to be and adds something really special to baking. It turned out perfectly in this cake, complimenting the warm cinnamon and apples.
Other than that very important detail, I followed her recipe (except I multiplied it by three which is why my cake isn't the lovely circular one that Martha has but a giant mass fit to feed an army -- I scaled it back down in this recipe). Give it a try and please enjoy. As silly and simple as it sounds, I know that for me at least, a cake like this can help me start to see that silver lining after all.
P.S. This is my first post of 2011! I promise to start posting more (as I seem to say in every post). Really though, I'll have a lot more free time now that I'm taking time off of school. Get ready, things are going to get delicious.
Apple-Blackberry Brown Butter Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Granulated sugar, for the pan
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (omit salt from dry ingredients if using salted butter), plus more for the pan, plus 2 tablespoons cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
4 apples, preferably Fuji or Gala apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and dust with granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch it carefully as brown butter can burn very quickly. When the butter has reached a deep amber hue, immediately remove from heat and whisk together browned butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, the milk, and eggs in another bowl (being careful to add the butter slowly so the eggs don't cook). Whisk into flour mixture.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Arrange apple wedges over batter, and sprinkle with blackberries. Gently press fruit into batter. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and the cinnamon, and sprinkle over fruit. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until top is dark gold, apples are tender, and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let cool. Serve with whipped cream if desired.