This dense, fruit-filled cake studded with brandy-spiked raisins is perfect for afternoon tea or dessert. Snowing outside? It goes well with gløgg by the fire, too. I have made a version of this cake for many years, and what I enjoy about it is its unfailingly pleasing qualities. It reminds me of a classic, timeless dress: always in style - just add a few accessories, and it gracefully morphs into a new dessert. Eat it simply as is, and call it a coffee cake. Top it with rich caramel sauce and it becomes a gooey, child-friendly indulgence (perhaps minus the brandy in the raisins.) Add a dollop of whipped cream fortified with Calvados, and you have a decadent dessert fit to end a dinner party. The quintessential little black dress of desserts.
Apple Brandy Cake with Caramel Sauce
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Calvados brandy
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut in 1/2" dice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
In a small bowl, combine raisins and brandy. Let sit one hour. Do not drain.
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Butter a 9x13 rectangular baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Lightly butter the parchment.
In a bowl of electric mixer, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add brown and granulated sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla. Using electric mixer, beat until batter is pale and smooth, scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Fold in apples, pecans and raisins with brandy. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake in center of oven until cake center springs back when touched and a skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan. (Cake can be made up to 3 days in advance. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.)
Makes about 2 cups
1/2 cup butter, cut in chunks
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Calvados brandy (optional)
Combine butter, sugars, cream in heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in optional brandy. (Can be prepared in advance. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate up to one day.)
Whipped Cream with Calvados:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sifted confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons Calvados Brandy
In a bowl of electric mixer, whip cream until whisk attachment leaves traces in the cream. Add sugar and brandy. Continue to whip until cream holds soft peaks.