Growing up in Chicago, places like apple orchards weren’t exactly on the list of weekend getaways. When my dad lived in one of those old hotels in Hyde Park, this one called The Saranac, he used to take me to The Museum Of Science And Industry or maybe The Field Museum when I visited him. On rare occasions during the Summer, we might head out to the Indiana State Dunes and spend the day getting sunburned…I mean, playing in the lake. Nahhh, I mean getting sunburned. Nobody worried about sunscreen back then. By all rights, none of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s should have any skin left. I remember a sunburn I got when I was 17 that left me the color of a Coke can and blistered. My dad wanted me to go to the ER, but I refused.
But I digress. Imagine that. Me. Going off on tangents. As I was saying, there were no orchards in the middle of Chicago. Since living in KY (half my life now, actually), and raising my kids here, it has never failed to make me a bit jealous when my kids would go on field trips to apple orchards or “pick your own pumpkin” spots. It was always just so…. southern to me. In a wonderful way, mind you. So when the idea to go to an orchard with the boys popped into my head, I ran with it. The one we went to is so cool. The apples were fairly well picked over this late in September, but we still got some. But there was also a huge play area that Joshie and Jordan loved, a cafe that we hope to eat at next time and tons of homey apple and “countryish” products at a store there. I hate that it took me until I was this ancient to discover orchards!
So what did I make with what apples we got? Not a darn thing. We didn’t get enough to spare for anything but out of hand eating. It was just coincidental that I had made this cake Saturday.
This is one awesome coffee cake, if I do say so myself *preens a little* It’s a tamer version of a crumb coffee cake. I stuffed this with apples, cranberries and cinnamon chips, as well as a crumbly mixture on top and in the middle. This is ultra moist due to the apples with a lovely flavor due to, well, all the varied ingredients. This is such a perfect Autumn cake. Typical of many coffee cakes, this is even better in the days following baking it, as opposed to fresh from the oven. The flavors need time to meld and then it is spectacular. The recipe was very loosely based off of one I got from a yahoo groups newsletter over a decade ago. Anyone else remember those groups fondly!?
This is a tiny bit more involved than “throw and dump”, but nothing you can’t handle. Trust me.
You know the drill….
Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted, finely chopped pecans or walnuts.
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup of either fresh apple cider or (preferably, if you have it) boiled cider**
- 2 1/4 cups of peeled and chopped apples (about 4 small apples)
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked for 20 minutes in 3 tablespoons hot water, then drained
- 1 bag Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips (you COULD make this optional, because I know these can be hard to find, but please try to find them!)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a tube pan. Alternately, spray it with a flour/oil baking spray such as Bakers Joys Or Wiltons (which is my favorite) Set aside
- Make your filling- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nuts. Add in the melted butter and mix until it is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Set aside.
- For the cake, in a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. beat on low speed with a hand mixer until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl down and add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
- Combine the buttermilk and apple cider/boiled cider in a measuring cup.
- Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the bowl with the butter, starting and ending with the flour (1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour, remaining buttermilk, remaining flour), beating on low speed JUST until combined after each addition.
- Gently fold in the apples, cranberries and cinnamon chips.
- Spoon half the batter into the prepared tube pan. Evenly top with half the crumb mixture, then the other half of the cake batter. Then top with the last half of the crumb mixture. Gently pat it down to help it adhere to the top.
- Bake at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, no loose liquidy batter. Let it cool in on a rack in the pan for about ten minutes, then carefully run a butter knife along the sides of the pan and around the center hole. Do this a couple of times just to make sure it’s completely loosened.
- Carefully (use pot holders and/or a towel. This is till gonna be hot) invert the pan over your (protected) hand (works even better if you can use two hands and someone else does the inverting and shaking. Don’t ask me how I know this. Ahem.) and carefully shake the cake out. Invert it immediately back onto the rack to finish cooling.
- Let cool until completely cool before slicing, about two hours. Like I said above, this is even better the next day.
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**If you want to make your own quickie version of boiled cider (boiled cider has a much more intense apple flavor than regular cider, so is worth the trouble.), take 1 cup of fresh cider and pour it into a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat a bit and continue boiling until the cider has reduced down to about 1/4 cup. Let it cool before using.