My mother used to make a simple apple cake when I was a kid growing up outside of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She made it in her tin baking pan that lasted her more than fifty years. When the weather grew cool and apple season was in full swing, we would visit a local apple farm, one of many that dotted the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. I can still smell the apples as they were being squeezed through presses to make cider, and remember the peck-sized wooden baskets of apples that we carried home. My dad usually picked up a gallon jug of unfiltered cider too.
You may use any variety of apple that you prefer for baking. I chose Granny Smiths for their tart flavor and firm texture, but my mother favored MacIntosh apples. Our Meyer lemon tree is loaded with ripe fruit, but any lemon will do here. We certainly didn’t have lemon trees in Pennsylvania! Because this is an old-fashioned recipe, I used my mother’s vintage 1948 hand beater to mix the cake batter for my Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Cake.
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons yellow raisins
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 pinch ginger
- Butter and flour to prepare cake pan
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 large or 2 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- Powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Set topping aside.
3. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking dish. Set aside.
4. Using a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
5. In another medium-sized bowl, beat together the egg, white sugar, melted butter, milk, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir to combine, then add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
6. Pour batter into baking dish. Press apple slices into cake batter. Sprinkle topping over apple slices.
7. Bake 20-25 minutes until cake tester comes out clean and cake top is golden brown. Sift some powdered sugar over warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.