The legendary apples of Lebanon! When I first moved to the States thirty years ago, I would invariably get the comment: “did you live in a desert with camels?” I would answer:” no, Lebanon is mostly mountains and valleys and covered in orchards!” In our house in the Chouf, we have an orchard and lots of apple trees, just like most of our neighbors. I remember many a time as a kid stealing an apple from the side of the road while we were up in the mountains for a hike and a picnic. Apples so crispy! so juicy! Well, back to my fridge here in Texas and I found a bunch of Granny Smith that I was just not inspired to eat. Enter one of Nick Malgieri’s dessert books Perfect Light Desserts and I knew what the fate of these apples was going to be! His recipe for an Easy Spice Cake (under 300 cal. a serving) was it!
Easy Spice Cake by Nick Malgieri (Perfect Light Desserts)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used organic pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and allspice
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Large eggs
1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup pecan pieces (I serve the nuts on the side)
A large rectangular pan, lined with parchment paper and sprayed with Baker’s Joy (optional)
This cake is so easy you can make it in 5 minutes. Either use ready-made unsweetened applesauce, or do what I did. I used all my leftover apples! This cake has a very soft crumb.
- Make the applesauce: To get the quantity needed, about 6 apples will suffice. I used 8 apples and served the cake with a dollop of sauce on the side. Peel and quarter the apples, drop in a pot with a couple tablespoons of sugar if the apples are very acidic (Granny Smith) and a peel of lemon. Add some water (about one cup) and let it simmer gently until cooked and somewhat dry.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Sift the flour with the salt, baking soda, and all the spices.
- Beat the butter and sugar for 2 minutes and then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- When the batter is smooth, start adding the flour mixture in increments, 1/3 flour, then 1/3 applesauce, and so on until all are incorporated.
- Add the pecans to the batter if using.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool it then unmold it and serve with some applesauce and nuts if you wish. Cake is delicious accompanied by black coffee or tea.
I added a long sliver of lemon rind to the apples while they were cooking; then I chopped it up and added it to the batter. I found that the lemon cuts the sweetness of the brown sugar in the cake in a very pleasing way. If you are using applesauce already made, you can just peel some lemon rind and chop it up and add it after you have mixed up the batter. Also, I prefer to serve walnuts or pecans on the side as opposed to having them as part of the cake.
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