Swedish Apple Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce
One of the things that I most loved (and miss) about living in Greece was the close proximity to other countries. If you wanted to visit Rome for a weekend, no problem. Berlin, Amsterdam, London, every major European city was just a hop, skip, and a jump away. So, we decided to take advantage while we were in Greece and spend a few days visiting some other countries. At the top of my list was Sweden. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Stockholm. My mother stopped there once, while on her way to Greece to visit me. We also happen to have a shop near our house called The Nordic Nest, and one of the women who owns it is from Stockholm.
So, we hopped on a plane and within a few hours we were exploring the charming streets of Stockholm.
One of the things that struck me most about Stockholm were the parks. The Swedes have built their city around nature. You don’t have to go more than 10-20 minutes to find a park. Now, when I say park, think Central Park, but on steroids. And they don’t have just one grand park, they have dozens of them around the city! My favorite was Rosendals Trädgård
They have a nursery, flower and vegetable garden, an apple orchard with picnic tables, and a lovely cafe. The cafe offered a nice selection of open-faced sandwiches and some of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. My favorite was the apple cake with warm vanilla sauce. It was moist, fluffy, and studded with tart apples. We had a great time at Rosendals. Talya even became BFF’s with a stone sheep.
She picked apples in the orchard, and got to eat an entire slice of cake all by herself … Anyone know how to say sugar-high in Swedish?
I was so excited when I learned that the café at Rosendals Tradgard published a cookbook. Unfortunately, it was in Swedish and the only Swedish I know is, “tack,” which means thank you. It’s useful, but not much good when trying to bake a cake. But since I am a professionally trained pastry chef, I decided to try and recreate their recipe on my own. It actually was a pretty simple recipe to figure out. The end result was a cake nearly identical to the one I tasted that day.
The key with this recipe is to make sure the butter, eggs and milk are all about the same temperature. Also, don’t skip the flour sifting, or the cake will have a dense texture. The warm vanilla sauce is a great addition, but if you’re feeling lazy, you can easily skip the sauce and just serve it with some whipped cream or slightly melted vanilla ice cream.
Swedish Apple Cake with Warm Vanilla Sauce
For the Cake:
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole milk, slightly warm
1 large tart apple, such as Fuji or Granny Smith
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the vanilla sauce:
1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9” springform pan and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine and sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add one of the eggs and beat one medium speed for one minute, or until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the second egg and beat again for one minute. Add ¼ cup of the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the final egg and beat for one minute. Add half of the flour, beating until combined. Add the milk and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour and mix until well combined.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Peel the apple and slice into 1/4” wedges. In a small bowl combine the ½ cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle ¼ of the sugar mixture onto the cake. Toss the apple slices into the remaining sugar and then spread the apples and sugar evenly over the top of the cake, gently pressing them into the surface.
Bake the cake for 60-80 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes. Drag a knife around the edges of the cake to prevent sticking and remove from the springform pan. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
Meanwhile, prepare the vanilla sauce. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a small pairing knife and scrape out all of the seeds. Toss the seeds and pod into a pot. Add the cream and milk. Bring to a boil. While the milk is warming, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs and beat for several minutes, until light and fluffy.
Once the milk begins to lightly boil, remove the pod and pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, while whisking constantly. Transfer the mixture back into the pot and cook over low heat while whisking constantly. Once thickened, remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
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