Chunky Apple Walnut Cake

CHUNKY APPLE WALNUT CAKE

Dec 16, 2015

 

There’s always a story… When I moved to NYC in 1985, The Silver Palate cookbook was all the rage.

It was one of a few books that I cooked all the way through; learning a fresh, new and tasty approach to cooking, baking and entertaining. 

The cookbook authors, Sheila Lukins and Julee Russo, were culinary pioneers. They adapted classic recipes, updating them with new flavors while simultaneously making them approachable for the home cook.

My taste tester for all of this cooking was my boyfriend, now husband Shimon. We still laugh about the evening we invited a group over to watch the World Series finals.  On the menu was Silver Palate’s Pasta Sauce Raphael, a spicy tomato sauce. As it turns out I was a bit liberal with the red pepper flakes.  Suffice it to say, it was a fun and fiery evening…and the NY Mets were triumphant!    

We relocated to the Hamptons in 1991. Years later I saw Sheila Lukins, who had a home in the Hamptons, at a farm stand. I remember being so starstruck.  Then, in 2004 I went to a book signing for her book Celebrate.  It was there, that I was able to gush and tell her how much The Silver Palate Cookbook meant to me from a culinary standpoint.

Flash forward to 2007, when I was working as pastry chef at The Laundry restaurant in East Hampton. Andrew Engle was the chef, and Sheila Lukins was a personal friend of his.  One evening, she came in for dinner. On the dessert menu was my restaurant version of The Silver Palate’s Chunky Apple Walnut Cake.  It was a small individual cake, with warm apple cider glaze and garnished with candied walnuts and caramel sauce.  An absolutely delicious cake, it is moist, has great texture and is full of flavor. I got a thumbs up! 

In 2009 Andrew, who is great chef, was invited to cook a dinner at James Beard Foundation in NYC, a prestigious honor. Fortunately I went as part of his team.  Sheila was a guest along with some friends. That dinner proved to be a very special evening! 

Sadly, Sheila Lukins past away later that year from a sudden illness. She leaves behind a culinary legacy. Sheila remains a great inspiration to me, and I am sure to many others.

  Front and center - Sheila Lukins, left to right - Stuart Kreisler & Tracey Bonbrest (Owner’s of Laundry Restaurant); 2 culinary assistants (brunettes) from Institute of Culinary Education; Jeanne Cuddy-Peretz, Andrew Engle (executive chef), LanceBrown, Irma Ostroff, Laurie Griffith (Sheila’s long time assistant), Marcos Reyes (line cook), Paul Labue (sous chef).


Front and center - Sheila Lukins, left to right - Stuart Kreisler & Tracey Bonbrest (Owner’s of Laundry Restaurant); 2 culinary assistants (brunettes) from Institute of Culinary Education; Jeanne Cuddy-Peretz, Andrew Engle (executive chef), LanceBrown, Irma Ostroff, Laurie Griffith (Sheila’s long time assistant), Marcos Reyes (line cook), Paul Labue (sous chef).

If you don't already own it,  buy the book here.

       Here's my  well worn   paperback  copy.


     Here's my well worn paperback copy.

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 1¼ c shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ¼ cups of coarse chunks of peeled and cored Rome Beauty apples
  • 3 tablespoons Calvados or applejack
  • Apple Cider Glaze (recipe follows)

Step by Step

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees                                                               

2. In a large bowl, beat vegetable and sugar until thick and opaque.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Sift together all-purpose flour, cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda and salt, then stir in whole wheat flour. Add to oil and egg mixture and mix until well blended.

4. Add walnuts, apple chunks and Calvados all at once and stir batter until pieces are evenly distributed.

5. Pour batter into a greased 10-inch round cake pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes,or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Let cake rest for 10 minutes, then unmold and pour glaze over warm cake, or cut cake and pour glaze over slices.

One 10-inch cake , 10-12 portions

Apple Cider Glaze

  • 4 T sweet butter
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 6T granulated sugar
  • 3T Calvados or applejack
  • 4T Sweet apple cider
  • 2T fresh orange juice
  • 2T Heavy Cream

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in both sugars.  

2. Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 4 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Pour while still warm over warm cake.

1 1/2 cups glaze

 

 

 

 

Notes

The recipe calls for a  10” round cake pan.  However, I usually use a 10" tube pan which works really well and slightly reduces the cooking time. 

This is a versatile recipe, here are a few substitutes I have tried:                                                                         1. Chopped pear for the apple, and pear brandy  for the Calvados or applejack.                        

2. Crystallized ginger diced and folded into batter and later used for a decorative garnish on top of cake.                                                                                        
3.  For the glaze substitute Maple sugar for granulated sugar. As a finishing touch, cake can be brushed with      glaze, as needed.                                                                                                                                                                        
 

Thanks You's:


Ted Delano - Technical advisor  

Andrew Engle - For all the ideas and resources you so generously shared for this story. 

Laurie Griffith (Sheila Lukins long time assistant) - For letting me bounce off my ideas to you about Sheila and this story.

Music: By Dana Boule - Swinging in the 7th - Songs of Paris

Shape + Structure, LLC for beautiful wooden surfaces.

 Abi Fawcett - For camera and lighting assistance.

The Silver Palate Cookbook - Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.
Many thanks for this cookbook, chock full of delicious recipes, which inspired this story.