Summer is undoubtedly the best season for fruit desserts. Crumbles, cobblers, pies, buckles, made with the best peaches, strawberries and raspberries of the crop. But fall is still a great baking season, with apples, pears, squash and pumpkins overflowing in every market.
There are dozens of varieties of apples around, and some are more suited to baking than others. Those with softer flesh, like McIntosh and Red Delicious are better for eating than baking. I like to mix a variety of apples in my baked goods (though this recipe only calls for 2), like a tart Granny Smith with a sweet Golden Delicious. Honeycrisp and Gala apples are also great, sweet choices for pies, tarts and cakes.
The apples in this cake are grated, which gives the cake a wonderful texture and apple flavor throughout. Where things really get interesting is the topping – a rich brown sugar meringue that will satisfy even the sweetest tooth. A sweet gooey layer forms between the two. If you’re not a meringue fan or if your sweet tooth is on strike, the cake would still be wonderful without it – just start checking it for doneness 10 minutes before the original baking time says.
Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue
2 egg whites [reserve the yolks for cake, below]
1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
2 large apples, peeled, cored and grated
½ cup raisins – optional
2 cups flour
Place egg whites, brown sugar and water in a large glass or metal bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water – full enough to touch the bottom of the bowl.
Over high heat, beat the meringue with an electric mixer until peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks and beat until combined. Stir in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, grated apple and raisins if using. Fold in the flour until just combined – don’t over mix the batter.
Spoon batter into greased 9×9 inch baking pan. Spread meringue evenly over the top. Bake on 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes.