Some cakes are towering and elegant. Some cakes are over-the-top decadent. And some cakes are simple, wholesome, and well, just plain good. The Easy One-Bowl Apple Cake I want to tell you about falls into the last category, and at this point in the year—thank goodness for that. There’s a quality both pure and magical about a low-effort, fruit-laden cake like this; to me, it feels like a deep exhale. Something that’s relatively effortless, but also so satisfying at just the right moment.
So look, the air is cooling and crisping, leaves will be turning before you know it… go ahead, pull on your coziest cozy sweater, grab a big bowl, and enjoy the refreshing nature of the shift in seasons. Mixing up an apple cake is a quintessential fall activity (one that fills the house with a heavenly aroma, I might add), and this recipe requires such a minimal investment of time and energy—why the heck not?
Great cooking comes down to confidence
Here are a few tips to guarantee that your cake baking is every bit the easy, breezy experience you need it to be.
GET THE RECIPE: Easy One-Bowl Apple Cake
Obviously, given the nature of this cake, that has the word “easy” in the title, this part of the equation should be relatively effortless. But as holds true for virtually all baking recipes, you’ll make matters far easier on yourself if you have your ingredients and equipment laid out. So, before you even start melting butter, here’s what you’ll want to have at the ready:
Your One Bowl
It’s true you only need to dirty up one bowl to make your cake, but not just any bowl will do. Ideally, you’re working with a large (you want to give yourself room to stir) mixing bowl that’s made of glass, ceramic, or another microwave-safe material. That said, if the only large mixing bowl you have at home is made of metal (hi, I’m right there with you!), you can ignore the part of the recipe that calls for melting butter in the microwave and instead melt your butter in a saucepan on the stovetop, then pour it into your bowl.
Your Apples—Peeled, Cored, and Sliced
Prepping the apples is, by far and away, the most labor- and time-intensive portion of this recipe, so go ahead and knock that part out before you get into measuring other ingredients. You’ll need 4 fairly average-sized apples—or, more specifically, you’ll want about 5 cups of thinly sliced apple pieces. So, however many apples get you there may depend on the size of your fruit. I suggest using honeycrisp, gala, Fuji, or a mix. I like thinly slicing the apples (about ⅛- to ¼-inch-thick), but you can also cut the apples into small cube-like pieces if you prefer. Just leave the prepped apples on your cutting board and set it to the side until you need them.
The Adds and Subs
Or, additions and substitutions! As with basically every recipe I develop, I encourage you to make this one your own. With that said, if using a neutral-flavored oil in place of the butter feels more convenient to you, you should definitely do that. You’ll need the same amount, ½ cup. And if you happen to already have plain yogurt and want to use that in place of the sour cream, be my guest.
In terms of additions, have some fun with incorporating any warm, fall spices you like—you don’t have to cling exclusively to cinnamon. A little ginger and/or a touch of nutmeg or cloves would be nice. Like nuts? Fold a cup of chopped, lightly toasted pecans, walnuts, or almonds into your batter. Wanna throw a nice glaze on your baked beauty? Sounds like a good time to me.
You can bake this cake in any number of pans. But keep in mind that the material and the dimensions of the pan make a difference. Let’s look at your options; you can bake your Easy One-Bowl Apple Cake in:
A (9-x13-inch) Baking Dish
This is the baking vessel I default to, not gonna lie, largely because it’s the easiest to clean. That, and cutting this cake into square pieces for serving appeals to me. (A square provides perfect surface area for a generous scoop of vanilla or butter pecan ice cream to be plopped on top.) I found that baking the cake in a ceramic casserole dish also kept the cake’s color from darkening quite as quickly.
A (12-inch) Cast-Iron Skillet
The cast-iron skillet is a supreme choice if you’re going for a rustic, autumnal vibe here—just be sure that your skillet is large enough to accommodate all of the batter. And keep in mind that the cast-iron will likely yield a slightly darker colored cake. When I tried this cake out in my cast-iron, I really loved the personality and warm, homey touch that the skillet provided.
A (10-inch) Springform Pan
The springform pan will yield a slightly taller, perhaps more sophisticated-feeling cake. In fact, if you go this route, go ahead and give your apple cake a light dusting of powdered sugar once it’s cooled—classy! Just remember, if you use the springform pan, you will likely need to add a few more minutes to your bake time, so keep an eye on your cake in the home stretch.
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