Taking a lighter approach with apple torte

Just what is a torte? I have such limited experience with them. Actually, I have had no experience with them until making my first one recently — an irresistible recipe for Apple Cream Torte seemed to promise a range of many of the things I found delicious in dessert: a cake that was not cake, but a light variation of a cake-like creature, creamy and custardy that featured my favorite fall fruit — apples!

A torte is somewhat a cross between a cake and a pie, usually a sweet thing (although I’ve seen some savory versions here and there) and usually baked in a springform pan. I love the idea of getting your whole cake out of the way in one pan like this (or in a tube pan or a single layer of square, round or rectangle). Cakes can be such a fuss if one is expected to bake layers and assemble them.

Here, in this Sunset magazine recipe was what appeared to be a beautiful dessert in a simple apple torte that was baked, released from its springform cage and dusted with confectioner’s sugar to be nothing less than a showstopper for any table.

I had been eating my share of apples this season…they all seem to be truly delicious, crisp and juicy and just the right amount of sweet-to-tart.  I’ve been particularly taken with Fuji apples, their dense sweetness and semi diminutive size this season make them the perfect snack. I thought they would be a nice apple for the torte.

The recipe instructs to core the apples, then peel them, then slice them into rings. I have a great little hand-crank apple corer, peeler and slicer that does the job in a few turns. I had only to take a paring knife and cut through the spiral of apple to make the rings. I dressed the apple rings with a little lemon and a whiff of cinnamon, a departure from the recipe that I didn’t think would hurt.

The batter for the torte could not be simpler. Eggs and sugar are beaten to a foamy pale yellow.

Rich heavy cream and vanilla are beaten in. Then flour (a minimal amount), baking powder and salt are mixed into the batter just until it all comes together.

The apple rings are gently tossed into the batter, so they are coated evenly.

Then everything is spread evenly into the buttered-and-floured springform pan. 

I baked my cake at a low temperature (325) for about an hour. It looked sturdy but light, and beautifully golden when I removed it from the oven.

After removing the springform ring and allowing adequate cooling time, the cake was finished with powdered sugar. Lovely. I was excited to cut and taste.

The cake was fluffy-light, almost souffle-like, but sturdier, with a creamy custard moistness and the sweet spice of those thin Fuji apples. What a dreamy dessert! And simple. Sometimes that is the best.

Apple Cream Torte

From Sunset magazine

Makes 10 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 or 4) tender-sweet apples, such as Cameo, Fuji, or Gala
  •  3 large eggs, at room temperature
  •  1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon table salt
  •  Powdered sugar
  •  Crème fraîche (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and generously flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Using a paring knife or sharp corer, core apples from stem down through seeds and base to remove in one cylinder. Peel apples and slice crosswise into 1/4-in. rings. Set apples aside.

In a large bowl, using a mixer with whisk attachment, beat eggs and granulated sugar on high speed until pale and slightly thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add cream and vanilla. Beat about 30 seconds more to blend. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and blend on low speed until evenly combined.

Add apples (including any uneven end pieces) to batter and stir gently with a spatula to coat, separating slices. Pour mixture into prepared pan and arrange apples flat.

Bake cake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into center of cake (rather than an apple piece) comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let cake cool on a rack 20 minutes, then run a slender knife between edge of cake and pan. Remove pan rim and cool cake at least 10 minutes more.

Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar and topped with spoonfuls of crème fraîche if you like

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