Tuesday, October 16, 2007

not your typical apple cake

well, it's autumn which means apples galore here in north america. as the weather gets colder, people will inevitably make the traditional, but always pleasing, standards like apple sauce, apple butter and apple pies and cakes.

one apple cake i have been making for a long time comes from a relative who lives in israel. it is also one of those things which cannot be judged from looks alone. what pops into my head is what they say in italian .... "bruto ma buono" (ugly but good!). in reality, it is a cake which is quite different from most — it includes semolina pasta flour and has no liquids or eggs! funny enough, i came across a very similar recipe in a cookbook a few years back, so i guess it's not thaaat original, after all. anyway, despite its lack of usual ingredients, it's a great all purpose cake to serve with coffee or tea. the way it is made reminds me of a coffee cake i posted earlier (but with a different texture).

in order to successfully make this cake, you will need 2 things: a good baking apple (i use either empire or macintosh types) and durum semolina flour which is the same as pasta flour. this can be purchased at major grocery stores or in bulk where you can get the amount that you require for whatever you are making. it is not the same thing as semolina which is also called wheatlets or sooji or solet or smeed.

if using parve (non dairy) margarine, the cake will be completely vegan as there are no eggs and no dairy products in it at all. if nuts are an issue, just don't add the ground almonds. it won't make much of a difference.

unorthodox apple cake

unbelievably, this recipe has no eggs or liquid added to it except that of the melted butter (or margarine) and juices released from the apples as it bakes. it results in a wonderful cake which actually requires little work on your part. i suggest using a baking sheet underneath to catch any juices that may escape from the spring form pan — there should be very little, if any, that does.


1 c (8 oz /192 g) durum semolina (pasta) flour (not solet/sooji/smeed)
1 c (8 oz /125 g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 g) baking powder
1/4 tsp ( 1.15 g) baking soda
3/4 c (6 oz /125 g) sugar
1 pkg (15 g) vanilla sugar, optional*
2 tbsp (12 g) ground almonds, optional

1/2 c (4 oz /100g) unsalted butter or parve margarine

5 to 6 large apples, suitable for baking

2 tbsp (25 g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp (3.5 g) cinnamon

*if you don't have vanilla sugar, then skip it. don't add regular vanilla.


preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and grease a 8 or 9 inch springform pan. you need a springform type to get the cake out easily. it can be made in a regular pan but it may not come out of the pan very nicely and neatly.

in a small bowl, measure the butter and melt it in the microwave or on stove top in a pan.

meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

drizzle 9 teaspoons only of the butter or margarine over the dry ingredients and with clean hands, "massage" the oil into the dry mixture until its well incorporated. it should clump when you squeeze it.

wash your hands and place only 1/2 of the mixture into the springform pan and with a spoon even it out and compact it a little.

peel and core the apples and shred them on a large grate. you can do this quickly in a food processor also if you have the attachment. if they turn brown, don't worry about it.

in a small dish, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.

place the apples over the first layer and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix over that evenly. use a spoon again to spread out the mixture so its evenly placed.

now add the rest of the dry mix over the apples and smooth it out again.

drizzle the remaining butter or margarine over the the semolina flour mix and bake the cake for 50 minutes.

once it comes out it will still look pale and will probably have cracked. it won't look cooked but it is. in order to set properly, the cake needs to cool down completely.

once cooled, take a knife and carefully cut around the circumference of the cake. remove the spring form and cut into slices. it will stabilize and become firm once it's sat for about 2 hours.

while it may not win any beauty contests, what matters most is the taste — and this one definitely has it. you can also sprinkle toasted slivered almonds & powdered sugar (and extra cinnamon) over the top to garnish.



sara said...

que fácil y rico!pero ahora estoy confusa:compré sémola de trigo duro-eso dice el paquete- para hacer tishpishti y creo que sirve para este pastel.¿cual es la semolina del tishpishti?
it doesn't look so ugly, i like it.

burekaboy — said...

sari - es dificil decirte lo que compraste sin verlo. hay dos cosas diferentes: uno es "durum semolina flour" -- lo que es muy fino y se usa para hacer 'italian pasta', este typo es lo que uso aqui y es muy amarillo. el otro que se usa para el tishpisti y nammoura es mas granular y blanco aqui se llama 'wheatlets' en ingles. puedes encontrarlo muy facilmente en un negocio que se vende indian groceries. se llama 'sooji'.

lee aqui tambien.

Anonymous said...

I love Apple Cake, of all kinds and this one will be on I hope to try soon! Yumm!

TopChamp said...

multilingual! looks fantastic - and it's a new thing to do with the apples. I haven't had that many falling yet so there should be plenty more apply eating to do this season.

burekaboy — said...

jamila - hi there, i'm sure you'll like this one. it feels strange when you make it because the usual ingredients are missing but turns out really well considering .... :)

TC - what?! no apples yet?? LOL. which kind do you guys use for baking? i know you have different kinds than we do (but some are also the same).

Vidya said...

Ah, something that I can enjoy! I have all the ingredients, so I think I'll make it this weekend. Stay tuned.

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Like Sara, I am now confused about semolina... I have been buying semolina "flour" (I think) (in bulk, usually) to make bread - it's yellowish, but in texture it's more like fine cornmeal than like fluffy regular flour. I used to make solet on kibbutz, and of course one always needs it for Temple sacrifices, along with the two yearling calves ;-) but I can't remember what it looked like (I always assumed it was the same as Cream of Wheat??).

burekaboy — said...

vidya - had a feeling you'd like this one :) i find it tastes better the next day even -- after sitting in the fridge. btw, you can add or substitute cardamom for the cinnamon. you'll see how easy this is to make. btw, is your mom still there?

emily - welcome back :) lol @ temple sacrifices.

you're right, it is very confusing. to set the record straight, solet = cream of wheat and semolina flour is slightly gritty yellow pasta flour (called durum semolina). solet comes from the "heart" of the wheat which is why it is white and not yellow. the two are NOT the same thing. they even get it wrong on the packaging; depending on where it's produced they call it different names which is why it becomes very confusing. both products come in different granulations, however. additionally, different mills will process it in different grades of fineness. what is considered "fine" by one company may not necessarily be (as) "fine" (a) granulation by another.

Magpie Ima said...

This looks quite unusual. Where is the recipe originally from? When I find some good baking apples I will give it a try!

Alisa said...

You are far too modest. That is one beautifully delicious looking apple cake! Where does one find semolina flour? I have not spotted it at my grocer when looking in the past.

burekaboy — said...

magpie ima & alisa - welcome & thanks for the comments.

magpie ima: it's worth a try -- the recipe is very unusual; i got it in haifa but not sure where it really came from. i'll try & find out and let you know. btw, try to use apples which are not overly sweet as the cake is sweet already with the sugar in it.

alisa: not sure where you live but usually, you can find it where the flours are sold in larger stores or especially in italian neighbourhood grocery stores. i know you can find it at health food stores, too. you need DURUM SEMOLINA FLOUR for the cake, which looks like very fine yellow (american) cornmeal, i.e. polenta. if you have a whole foods store (and are in the USA) you'll find it there, for sure. good luck in your search :)

TopChamp said...

I have a cooking apple tree in the garden - I don't know what exactly as it's massive and has clearly been there for a long time! And technically it's not in MY garden but in the garden neighbouring mine at the bottom. It winds me up that they don't pick any up on their side of the fence - such a waste! Anyway - they do great in most things but go quite mushy if I cook them too long.

sarita said...

hey b.boy, just made this unusual cake this afternoon and followed each of your steps exactly.it came out of the oven perfectly well even a bit golden.it was amazing, so different, crunchy top, then a little sandy and so balanced in terms of sweetness.very original recipe, a keeper for me!

burekaboy — said...

hi sara - glad to hear you really liked it and it turned out well ;) hope j liked it, too. i make it a few times a year especially in the fall and winter when we have lots of apples. thanks for letting me know how it went! talk to you soon, busy week.

mimosa said...

i like the name of this cake, the ingredient too! nice recipe!

burekaboy — said...

hi mimosa - bienvenue et merci pour le commentaire ;) c'est vraiment un tres bon gateau — il est aussi tres simple et facil a preparer.

je vous remerci pour la visite et a la prochaine.