I’ve been trying for a few days to finish the introduction to this recipe but the thing is, I’ve no words left. Is it the stressful time, the long hours at work, the mentally challenging tasks, the pressure of the deadlines?…Whatever it is, when the evening comes I just want to jump on the bed and pass out watching whatever it’s on the telly that has no commercials.
I allow myself to be bombarded by other people’s thoughts, beliefs, omens, assumptions on future developments, with my hands on my lap and my legs crossed (and perhaps a slightly silly expression on my face). In today’s world everyone knows what to say, except when you actually need genuine advice. Suddenly they are all politicians, plumbers, judges: they all know what to do, what’s right and what’s wrong…and in the meantime everything is going to the dogs. Is there a solution? Isn’t it true that facts matters, while everything else is just a childish way to kill time, and everyone who is listening?
Reading back, I still can’t believe I started a post in this way. Maybe I will lose a few readers who think this blog is all about sweetness. Sorry if I gave you false hopes, I like contrasts, otherwise I get bored. Therefore, today I will switch from Paris-fan to Stars and Stripes cheerleader, and I will tell you how I fell in love with the very American California Bakery. Yes, the ones of the 4kg cheesecake, of the cookies as big as my hand and as heavy as lead, of the carrot cake with everything in it, perhaps even carrots. I will be brief, intense and ruthless.
A few year ago I was in downtown Milan for work, in a client’s office. After my meeting I got out and began to walk towards the Duomo underground station. Once in Via Larga I realised I was in the middle of a demonstration which featured all sorts of people, except pacifists. To be more precise, the pacifists flags were there, but the ones holding them were wearing hoods and looking very nervous. There were small vans filled with screaming teens armed with megaphones, riot police and the air was filled with loud sirens. “Damn it, could they not do it on Saturday? Today is Wednesday and it’s not even noon…go back to school!”
With my backpack on, I tried to run along the pavement, when suddenly the blue sky turned into red and the road was filled with chocking tear gas. I heard policemen shouting at people to get out of the way – happy to oblige, dear.
I unsuccessfully attempted to open the doors of a few shops, when suddenly a door was slammed open, a guy pulled me in grabbing me by the arm and locked again behind me. And suddenly, I felt like Christopher Columbus in front of the New World, a world of cakes, just like the ones you dream of as a child: “I want a cake as biiiig as this”.. “But how big, my love?”
…just like the one behind the counter. So I sat down at a table, took out the laptop, ordered a caffe’ lungo and that’s how, in a big Italian city, immersed in a French bistro atmosphere, I ate the biggest slice of American cheesecake of my entire life. And that’s how, to my great joy, a moment of fear and anxiety turned into a high GI ecstasy. And that’s how I fell in love with California Bakery.
There are many recipes from their book which I love to bake on a regular basis, but this bundt cake with apples, cinnamon cream and walnuts is my favourite. Its perfume always reminds me of the unusual magic of that day.
And now I can be myself again: dear sirs, you won’t believe it but the best Cheesecake in the world is made by Frenchman Jacque Genin.
The next time you feel like baking an apple pie with a different twist, try this one, it’s really worth it. The original recipe doesn’t have any icing, that was my idea so it’s not mandatory.
Bundt cake mold 20/22 cm diameter (I used a silicon one)
Whisk or food machine with wire whisk
INGREDIENTS & METHOD
For the creamed butter
60 g butter, softened
25 g caster sugar
4,5 g cinnamon
1 teaspoon flour
In a bowl (or in the food machine) whisk the softened butter with the sugar, cinnamon and flour.
Pour the mixture in a piping bag (no need for the nozzle) and set aside.
For the filling
2 Golden apples
25 g chopped walnuts
25 g sugar
8 g cinnamon
Cut the apples into thin slices (if you want you can use a slicer), put them into a bowl and add the sugar and cinnamon. Keep the liquid that will form if you are planning to make the icing.
For the batter
240 g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pinches of salt
200 ml peanut oil
230 g caster sugar
seeds of ½ vanilla pod or half teaspoon vanilla powder
125 g full fat natural yogurt
Grease the mold with butter and flour.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, the baking powder and the salt.
In another bowl mix the sugar and the oil and then add one egg at the time. Combine well together and then gradually add the sifted powders, alternating with pouring the yogurt and the vanilla.
Mounting the cake
Preheat the oven to 160° C.
In the mold, pour 1/3 of the batter and then add:
- A layer of apples, evenly spread
- Half of the chopped walnuts
- Half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture
- Half of the creamed butter (to form a ring over the apples)
Pour another 1/3 of the batter and then repeat 1-4 above, to form a second and last layer. Complete by adding the remaining of the batter.
Put in the over for approximately 45 minutes. To check if it’s ready, insert a toothpick: in any combination it won’t be completely dry because of the apple and creamed butter filling.
Take out of the oven, let it rest in the mold until warm and then remove from the mold and place it on a wire cooling rack.
110 g brown sugar
115 g butter
1,5 tablespoon milk
One tablespoon of the apple and sugar liquid you saved earlier on
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
128 g powdered sugar
Boil the brown sugar, the butter and milk in a saucepan, stirring continuously.
Remove from the heat, add the apple and sugar liquid and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar and whisk until you obtain a soft mixture. If you prefer a thicker icing don’t use milk, if instead you want a more liquid one, gradually add a few teaspoons of milk until you get the desired density.
Ice the bundt cake and decorate with chopped walnuts.