she was celebrating her 80th birthday, with a concert for around 60 friends, and asked me to make appetizers. I choose a Slavic theme because Helen spent time as a citizen diplomat in Russia in the 90’s. She couldn’t find anyone locally to make her birthday cake, so I signed on for a cake for 60 on top of everything else. Yikes. I’d never made a cake that large, but oh well. It was an intense week of cooking, and I hope to post the lovely recipes that came out of it. Everyone loved the cake. I was also quite happy with how it turned out, and thought you’d appreciate the recipe.
Some notes of interest about the cake
Equal parts of rye and potato starch make an excellent cake flour.
The freshly ground spices are important and are carried well with the honey.
Acid, i.e. Apple Cider Vinegar awakens the flavors. It's surprising what you can’t taste until you add acid and salt. This goes for baking as much as for soup.
Real Buttercream that isn’t too sweet makes the cake.
I liked the simple decorations of candied orange peel, blanched almonds and buttercream.
The big cake was three times this recipe.
Helen’s Honey Apple Cake
makes one 10 inch round or square cake serves 10 A balanced cake, not too sweet, spicy yet demure with tart apple. It’s moist yet light. The secret to its texture are equal parts of rye and potato starch, plus the boiling water. Because it uses honey, it’s a long keeping cake and improves with age. I must say, it’s a favorite and the European style buttercream a good addition.
Ingredients 1 ¼ cup /175g rye flour 1 ¼ cup /185g potato starch 2 teaspoons baking soda ½ teaspoon sea salt all of the spice mix ½ cup soft unsalted butter 1 cup /320g local raw honey 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax meal + 5 tablespoons water) 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 cup /237 ml boiling water 1 cup /125g /one tart apple peeled and cut into a small dice
Spice Mix for Helen’s Honey Cake 1 teaspoon coriander seed 5 green cardamom pods ½ teaspoon allspice berries 4 whole cloves Scant ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns 1 teaspoon fennel seed 2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
Instructions Preheat oven to 350F/180C Ready a 10-inch round springform buttered with parchment on bottom Gather all ingredients together Make the flax eggs by adding 5 tablespoons water to 2 tablespoons flax meal Grind spice mix and sift through a sieve Measure out dry ingredients including spices and sift into a large mixing bowl Heat water, cut up apple, measure honey Whip honey and soft butter together using a mixer until light and fluffy Add flax eggs and continue to whip Add vinegar to boiling water Alternating boiling water with dry ingredients, mix both into butter honey with mixer on low speed until completely combined Pour into springform and bake immediately on a middle rack for 30 minutes A toothpick will come out clean inserted into the center Let cool for 15 minutes and then release from springform and completely cool before decorating with buttercream.
The recipe will make a cake this size.
makes about 2 cups Buttercream should be served at room temperature. Ingredients 1/2 cup/115g sugar 1/4 cup/60 ml of water 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks 4 softened sticks (1 lb.) 454g unsalted butter 1 vanilla bean pinch of sea salt
Instructions In a heavy bottomed sauce pan– Measure out sugar and water Add the scraped out insides of a vanilla bean to it. Cook to the softball stage 240°F/ 115C on medium low. Take off heat Beat eggs and egg yolks together until frothy and thick Slowly Add the sugar syrup to the beaten eggs while whipping in a standing or handheld mixer Add butter pats plus salt and whip until light and fluffy
If you’re following along with my carrot/apple kraut adventures, we were gifted several boxes of McIntosh apples last week, so along with making sauce, butter, and drying them I decided to make some apple/carrot kraut. I’d used apples in cabbage kraut before with fresh cranberries and loved it. Then came another off-the-wall idea from reading around in Fermented Vegetables to design a recipe to make a apple/carrot kraut cake. I did and it was good, but I couldn’t get over the fact that it just tasted like a good carrot cake, because I couldn’t taste the sour at all.
A good trick huh, ha-ha: You love that cake you just ate a big slice of?... and surprise it’s sauerkraut cake! I just pulled that trick on my daughter and her boyfriend this morning, haha. They did love the cake, and didn’t believe it was made out of kraut, which neither likes. Anything to amuse myself.
But the whole cake experiment left me wanting to taste what kraut’s like in bread, thus this recipe. So what is carrot/apple kraut like in a sourdough rye bread? It’s good, think Reuben with the kraut already in the bread. I made it a steamed bread, although I’m going to try a Boule in the oven next. Overall I was happy and will make it again, it didn’t rise as high or as quickly as my regular steamed rye loaves, but only by a bit. It rose to the top of the loaf pan, and took an hour longer to get there. My guess is that the lacto-bacteria become very active from both the levain starter and kraut, creating an acid environment that’s a little too much for the yeasts to optimally thrive. The dough is also denser with the kraut and sunflower seed additions, so the yeasts were having to work harder, and in more difficult circumstances. I could have added the kraut right before proofing with the salt, and maybe I will next time.
It’s texture is like a whole grain sandwich bread. I especially like the oats, and the way they taste toasted. I like the bits of sunflower seeds. It’s a good toast/sandwich bread, great with sharp cheese, and mustard. The two sour hits, but with different flavor profiles are worth it; the rye sour and then the kraut sour.
Overnight Ingredients 1 ½ cup/136g oatmeal ¼ cup/30g ground flaxseed 1 cup/150g gluten free mix ( ⅔ cup sorghum flour and ⅓ cup potato starch) 2 cups/240g rye flour ½ cup/100g firm gluten free levain (or firm sourdough starter) 2 cups/200g apple/carrot kraut ½ cup/65g sunflower seeds 1 ⅓ cup/315ml filtered water
Morning Ingredients 2 teaspoons sea salt 1 tablespoon honey
Evening Instructions I use a food processor for mixing, but it can be done by hand. Grind flaxseed in a spice grinder and set aside Measure oatmeal into food processor and spin until fine Add gluten free flour, ground flaxseed, rye flour, sunflower seeds spin Crumble firm levain over mix and spin for a minute. Add kraut and pulse to briefly combine Dump into a mixing bowl, add water, stir until combined, cover and let sit at room temperature 65-75F for 12 hours or until fermented.
Morning Instructions Turn large oval slow cooker to high for 20 minutes with the lid on Sprinkle salt over fermented dough Add honey and combine with your hands thoroughly Butter loaf pan, smooth batter into pan. After 20 minutes, turn OFF slow cooker and set the loaf to proof inside. It should reach the top of the pan within 2-3 hours. Pour 3 cups water into the bottom of slow cooker and set to high for 4 hours. The loaf is done after four hours, its internal temp. should be 202-205F. Turn it out of the pan and let cool completely before slicing, This bread slices well when it’s fresh. It also re-steams nicely when dried out, makes wonderful toast, freezes well pre sliced. Store in a cloth, or paper bag at room temperature.
Another interesting note: we’ve had a few fruit flies in the house with all the apples and pears. They're after this bread but not anything else baked. Which makes me feel the bread's super alive sweet, ripe and in harmony with the season.
I made two of these crisps this morning, delicious, one for us to sample at breakfast, and the other for my husband to take to a staff retreat. We’re having a long overdue rainy morning, so the late summer plums and apples baked into crisp feels right. My inspiration, the two bags of plums and apples I was gifted. I’d put most of the fruit into the food dehydrator yesterday, and they’ve filled the house with the smells of sweet baking fruit, but saved back enough plums and apples for a crisp.Thoughts of a poppy seed strudel I’d made with rye earlier in the summer came to mind, as I dreamed into this crisp--hmm rye, plums, apples and poppy seed with a bit of brandy, yes, and the inner food whisperer added, and how about sunflower seeds?
Apple Plum Poppy Seed Rye Crisp
Makes 1 large or 2 smaller crisps /serves 10 Ingredients The Fruit 6 cups (5 medium apples) chopped medium dice local baking apples on the tart side, several kinds works well 3 cups (6 plums) local Italian plums chopped in a medium dice 4 tablespoons tapioca flour ¼ cup sugar (see note) 2 tablespoons brandy (I had some homemade vanilla brandy) ¼ teaspoon cinnamon The Topping 1 cup rye flakes toasted 2 cups rolled oats toasted ½ cup sunflower seeds 1 cup local rye flour 3 tablespoons local poppy seeds 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon ½ to ¾ cup sugar (½ cup will be more breakfast, tea and ¾ cup dessert) 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 cup cold unsalted butter (two sticks) cut into ½ inch cubes
Instructions Preheat oven to 375F 190C Butter casserole(s) for crisp The Fruit Chop into a medium dice apples and plums, Sprinkle tapioca flour, sugar, spices and brandy with fruit, Mix together and let sit while you make the topping. The Topping Toast oats and rye flakes together in a heavy bottomed pan stirring occasionally, I use cast iron, about 4-5 minutes on low, they will smell toasty. In a food processor Add 2 cups of the toasted oat/rye flakes, rye flour, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, sea salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Spin to combine, everything should be spun to a meal. Add cold butter and pulse 6-8 times until the size of small peas, Add last cup of rye/oat flakes and briefly pulse to just combine.
Finishing and Baking Lay fruit on the bottom of the casserole and topping over it. Gently mix and move the topping so that some of it goes down into the fruit. Bake for 45-50 minutes. It should smell wonderful the top toasty but not burnt. Decorate with dried local apples and plums. Serve warm to local people. With Love Enjoy!
Note on sugar I don’t think any processed sugars, organic or not, are good for us, and I use very little sugar as a cook and baker; but sugar has its place, and I do love the flavors in the Rapunzel brand. It makes superior baked goods, and that’s why I use it--flavor. I find that the proper amount of sugar in a recipe helps to bring out the full flavors of food, whereas too much sugar hides the beautiful food and paralyzes the tongue. Sugar like makeup it’s meant to enhance natural beauty not mask.
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ― Bill Meyer