Autumn continues. I set out to escape the winter of the UK and head for the bright lights of New York City. What followed was 5 days of exploration – everything from the architecture to, of course, the food. And it got me thinking about some classic American recipes and desserts that I could work into something. And so I introduce to you the Great Bakes of America series.
Apple Pie is classic NYC – deep filled pie, with sweet pastry and sugary top. And while the U.S has us Brits and Europeans to thank for it, Apple Pie has become somwewhat of part of America’s food culture over the years. I didn’t get my chance to sample one while over in NYC, so I wanted to make this bake the first on the list: a cinnamon-y cake layered with stewed apples, finished with a cinnamon buttercream and topped with a sweet shortcrust pastry lattice top. It tastes just like the real thing.
Yields: 12-15 slices
280g plain flour, sifted
170g butter, softened and unsalted
300g light brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 tsbp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Brambly apples, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces
2 tsp mixed spice
3 tbsp water
400g icing sugar
2 tsp milk
3 tsp mixed spice
Pre-made sweet shortcrust pastry.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius. Line 2 x 6-inch cake tins with butter and a light dusting of flour. Sieve the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt all together. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, on by one, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat once more to combine. Add a 1/3rd of the flour mixture and beat, followed by half the buttermilk. Repeat the process, so you finish with the final 1/3rd of the flour. Divide equally into the cake tins and bake for 35 minutes.
Once the apples are peeled and cubed, add to a large saucepan along with the sugar, mixed spice and water. Simmer together, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft. Decant into a bowl and leave to cool completely. Remember to taste as you go and if you want it more cinnamon-y then adjust.
I used pre-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry, but this was more due to timing issues that anything else. Check this recipe for an easy sweet shortcrust pastry if you wish to do it by hand.
Once the pastry is rolled out thin, cut into strips. On the underside of a 6” cake tin that is dusted with some flour, lay out the strips in a lattice formation – so one strip under another, over the second, under the third, etc..
Brush with egg white and sprinkle on some sugar. Bake for 20 minutes.
Beat the butter on high for 5 minutes until pale, light and fluffy. Add half the sifted icing sugar and beat again for 3 minutes. Add the second half, along with the mixed spice and beat on high for a further 2 minutes. Add the milk and beat again until you’re left with a fluffy and pale buttercream.
Once the cakes are fully cooled, divide the cake layers in two, so you are left with four layers. Set the first layer out and cover the top with a thin layer of the buttercream. Pipe a ‘wall’ of buttercream around the circumference of the cake. In the centre, add some of the stewed apples and place the next layer on top – the cake should be sitting on the buttercream wall, as opposed to the apple mixture.
Repeat the process, until you’re left with the final layer. Flip this over, using the bottom of one of the original layers as the top, so it’s nice and flat. Crumb coat thewhole cake and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Once cooled, ice the rest of the cake, using a cake scraper to smooth the buttercream. Spoon a thin layer of the apple mixture on the very top of the cake and place the pastry cake on the top. Pipe some buttercream decoration around the edge to hide rough edges of the pastry and you’re done!