Densely packed with thinly sliced apples and topped with a buttery cinnamon-sugar crumble top. I’m calling this classic combination of sweet autumnal favorites an Apple-Pie Cake, or more precisely an Apple-Pie Crumb Cake because it’s a rather obvious marriage of two well-known and well-loved desserts. Apple Pie and Crumb Cake.
However, the real inspiration for this dessert comes from a lesser known sweet treat that got a lot of attention in the 1990s when Ann Willan featured it on a cooking segment of Martha Stewart Living.
Anne’s version was eventually pictured on the cover of her cookbook, Anne Willan: From My Chateau Kitchen. She called it an Apple Gateau, which is French for cake. However, her sweet, tart variation on a traditional layer cake was made without flour or eggs. In fact her Apple Cake was nothing more very thin slices of apple, layered with butter and sugar in a round pan. This stack of simple flavors was then “baked” at 175 degrees for 12 to 14 hours. You read that right– 12 to 14 hours!
I’ve made Anne’s version several times. If you have the time it’s surprisingly easy to accomplish– considering the elegant results. I’ll probably present her version here someday. Though I may have already promised that once or twice before and still not delivered. After all, 12 hours of cooking is quite a kitchen commitment, even for me.
The thing about Anne’s Apple Cake is it always seemed closer to an apple-pie cake to me because the apples were peeled, thinly sliced and stewed in their own sweet juices until they took on the luscious texture of pie. However, its crustless, stand alone shape suggests cake. It’s a fascinating combination.
Like I said, I don’t have 12 hours of baking in me right now, so I’ve cheated her recipe into the Apple-Pie Crumb Cake you see here. Like Anne’s gateau, my Apple-Pie Cake is neither pie nor crumb cake. But the flavors and texture will remind of both of these classic desserts and you won’t have to spend 12 hours in the kitchen. GREG