Food The Bite:

Cardamom-Cognac Apple Cake

Recipe from Cook Beautiful

Turned Up Classic

Without fail, as soon as the weather gets crisp, I get the urge to head upstate on an apple-picking adventure. And, also without fail, I end up with an enormous, overflowing bushel of fruit—way more than my little family could ever eat out of hand! One of my favorite ways to make use of them is this classic French apple cake. I started off making a traditional recipe years ago, but have been experimenting with it pretty much ever since. The result is a moist, bread pudding–like cake—thanks to the addition of buttermilk—that tastes deliciously decadent but not too sweet. Cognac and cardamom add a little something special, but don’t overwhelm the bright, clean apple taste.

Cardamom-Cognac Apple Cake

Athena Calderone


Serves 8-10

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon ground cardamom

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cognac (Calvados, rum, or bourbon work well, too)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

⅓ cup well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature

3 medium Honeycrisp apples

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Nestle a piece of parchment paper into an 8- or 9-inch cast-iron pan and grease it with butter. In a bowl, whisk together the four, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Whisk in the granulated sugar, cognac, and vanilla extract. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk to combine. Peel, halve, and core 2½ of the apples, then cut them into ½-inch-thick cubes. Reserve the remaining half apple, unpeeled, and cut it into ¼-inch slices, for the top.

Add half of the four mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined, then gently fold in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the remaining four mixture and melted butter.

Gently fold in the cubed apples, reserving the slices. Transfer the batter to the pan and arrange the apples slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake until the cake turns a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a cooling rack and let it sit for 5 minutes.

The cake may be served warm or at room temperature, directly from the skillet; whichever you choose, make sure to dust it with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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