Most recipes tell you what a particular dish is – vanilla cake, chocolate chip cookies, etc – but some also give you a little more information by telling you about where that recipe is from. A New York-Style Cheesecake is a great example of this, and this dense and creamy type of cheesecake is instantly recognizable. Some recipes, however, are associated with different places and it is unclear why. This is one of those cakes. I’ve seen similar recipes described as Breton Apple Cakes and Dorset Apple Cakes with little explanation as to what gives them those names. I have to assume that people who live in Brittany and Dorset have a fondness for this type of cake – and I don’t blame them one bit because it is delicious.
The cake is so packed with fresh apples that it verges on being an apple cobbler. It is very moist and tender, with a great flavor of butter, vanilla and apples. It’s just about impossible to go wrong with that combination. The batter is easy to whip up and it is very thick, so you need to fold the apples into it and them spread it into your baking pan. The apples should be thinly sliced, as that ensures that they will cook to tenderness as the cake bakes. It also results in a very attractive finished cake. I used Fuji apples and would recommend a fairly sweet or sweet-tart apple (not tart apples, like Granny Smith) for this cake because the cake batter is not too sweet on its own and a lot of the sweetness and flavor comes from those apples.
No matter what you call it, this is an excellent apple dessert. The cake can be served warm if you’re ready to eat it right away, but will keep very well for a day or two if you cool it and put it in an airtight container. I’d recommend eating it just a bit warm with confectioners’ sugar or ice cream.
Breton Apple Cake
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt (whole or low fat/greek-style ok)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, followed by the vanilla extract and the yogurt. Sift in flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until all ingredients are well combined and no streaks of flour remain. Batter will be quite thick.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir about half of the egg whites into the cake batter (you can use an electric mixer on “low” to stir) to lighten the batter, then gently mix in the remaining egg whites. Fold in apple slices.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only moist crumbs attached.
Cool for at least 40 minutes before serving.
Cake can be eaten warm or at room temperature.