This Apple Gateau comes from Anne Willan. Despite its elegant presentation, and extremely long baking time, this cake is very easy to make.
You may serve the gateau as is, or garnished with yogurt, crème anglaise or caramel sauce.
- butter (as needed)
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 ½ pound tart apples (such as Granny Smith)
Heat oven to 175 degrees F. Generously butter a 1 ½‑quart straight-sided souffle dish and a wide strip of parchment paper to form a collar extending at least 3 inches above the rim of the dish. Press the buttered side of the collar against the inside of the dish. Chill until butter is set and the paper sticks to the dish.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.
Peel, halve and core the apples. Cut each half crosswise into very thin slices, no more than 1/8 inch thick, work in batches placing sliced apples into a very large bowl as you work. A food processor fitted with the slicing blade works very well for this job. Alternately, slice apple halves using a mandoline, or a chefs knife.
Remove the prepared dish from the refrigerator. Sprinkle bottom of with about ½ teaspoon of the sugar mixture. Toss the sliced apples with the remainder until well distributed. Arrange a layer of apple slices in a tightly overlapping circular floral pattern in the bottom of the dish. Repeat with at least a second and third layer of apple running in the opposite directions. This crossed pattern of slices ensures that the cake holds together when unmolded.
Once a stable and attractive base is set (remember this will become the top) continue filling the dish with apples that are laid flat, pressing them down as you work to fill as many gaps as possible. Fill the entire dish and all the way up to the extended collar, which should be at least 3 inches above the rim. (They will shrink down into the souffle dish during baking.) Cover the top with a round of parchment paper. Lay a small stack of plates slightly smaller than the souffle dish to seal and weigh down apples.
Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until apples are much reduced and meltingly soft when pierced with a skewer, 12 to 14 hours. Tear off the top of the paper collar, and let cake cool to room temperature.
Carefully unmold gateau onto a rimmed or slightly slopped platter and remove parchment. The top should be lightly caramelized with syrupy juice running down the sides.
Slice and serve.