I once did an independent research project all about apple biodiversity. (This is a much cooler subject than you think, mainly because it consists of using a lot of really weird and fun and quirky apple names, like Cox’s Orange Pippin, Northern Spy, Snapdragon, and Gravenstein). I went up to Ithaca and met with the world’s leading apple geneticist, who incidentally is also just a really lovely human, and poked around a bunch of Upper New York apple orchards. It was the bomb.
This obsession with heirloom apples and general cliche Northeast fall-y things has led to a deep and intense desire to make apple cider donuts. It’s just that…I haven’t yet. I’ve made donuts, just not the sticky, tart, sugar coated fried confections that I dream about.
What I did instead is make a cake. Which yes, admittedly, is a little late season-wise. I realize that we’ve moved on to peppermint and nutmeg, but indulge me just a little bit and step your brain back to the apple and cinnamon state of two weeks ago.
If you also have wanted to make apple cider donuts but didn’t want to mess with a vat of boiling oil, this cake has GOT YOU. Start by boiling down two whole cups of apple cider (cider, not apple juice) until it’s a dark, thick syrup. Then proceed with standard cake making activities until you have a warm cake fresh out of the oven, at which point you’ll melt some butter over it and rub in cinnamon sugar, which incidentally is usually the cure for most of life’s problems.
Okay and with that, I’m off to go make a bunch of paper snowflakes for my windows, cheers!
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Apple Cider Cake
Makes one 9-inch cake
2 cups apple cider (NOT apple juice)
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons sugar (preferably raw cane, for the texture)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a medium saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer the cider until reduced to approximately 1/3 cup (it’ll be dark and thick and sticky).
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9-inch cake pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown rice syrup, and reduced apple cider until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and stir just until fully combined and smooth.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Once baked, let cool for just a few minutes in the pan, then invert onto a platter. Immediately, while the cake is still very warm, rub the tablespoon of butter across the top until fully melted. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle even across the top of the cake and use your hands to rub across the cake.