We usually prefer easy baking. Because, let's be honest, we're all busy - especially this time of year. We tried this cake, from Cooks Illustrated, because it promised to deliver a delicious apple-y cake without any gummy spots that commonly occur when you add apples to a large cake. They claimed that reduced apple cider and shredded apples are the keys to a perfect cake. Also, they insisted that the cake should be baked only in a bundt to avoid those gummy areas in the center.
So did it deliver? Well, sort of. The cake was beautifully baked, moist and firm, and looks pretty. No gummy, gooey spots. But we didn't feel that the apple flavor came through all that well. In the softer bottom of the cake it was a little more apparent. But overall, although our tasters agreed it was good, they felt they tasted more spice and less apple than promised. Was it worth all the effort? Not so sure.
If you're an apple lover and want to try it, here's the skinny:
You will used reduced apple cider in the cake and in the two-layer glaze. It's takes quite a while to reduce a quart of apple cider to one cup. And you need to be around to make sure it doesn't get too low. If you have access to apple cider syrup or want to purchase some online, this will make this cake so much easier. We reduced our own in a saucepan, not a skillet. We've had some issues in the past with burning while reducing, so took the lower, slower method.
The shredded apples were simple in our food processor. You can use a box grater as well. We used Honeycrisp for a slightly sweeter cake. You can use any apple that holds up to baking.
If you're wondering about the weird quantities, we altered the recipe so it can be made in your mixer and baked in a standard 10-cup bundt pan. The original was for a 12-cup pan - and hardly anyone has one of those!
ingredients & special equipment
Apple Cider Reduction and other prep
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