When I was thinking about recipes for this week with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I realized that I don’t have many traditional Irish recipes in my cooking repertoire. If anyone out there wants to share a favorite Irish recipe, please do so. I would love to try something new! I especially like old family favorites, and ethnic recipes–let me know if you have something special to share.
Anyway, in the past, I posted my version of Soda Bread, but it is far from traditional–it has cheese in it. It is delicious enough to make all year round. I also shared a recipe for Mint Brownies–although green, it is not the first thing anyone thinks of when getting ready to heft that frosty mug of green beer. Potatoes? Sure, but I already posted this recipe for a Full Irish breakfast that includes the traditional farl (potato patty). Irish stew or Shepherd’s pie? Hmm, I think I make yummy versions, but they are not conventional, Irish-specific recipes.
How about Guinness chocolate cake? Well, therein lies my real problem: I dislike beer, immensely. Even when it is buried within sweet chocolate baked goods. Yes, In my younger days, I would join friends on St. Patrick’s day and imbibe–but only with wine. Sacrilegious, right?
So, I decided to investigate more and find traditional Irish recipes. Maybe I could find a fresh twist on an old recipe. In my research, the most popular Irish dishes included stew, soda bread, Irish Coffee, Shepherd’s Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage). I also found lots of comments and recipes for Irish Apple Cake. There were so many, in fact, that I decided I didn’t want to parrot what is already out there. If you google it, and you can come up with “About 19,300,000 results” for Irish Apple Cake.
But I did have some apples that needed to be used up. So, I made an applesauce cake with apple compote. Not Irish, but still tasty.
And, somehow, a new Bundt pan just happened to show up on my porch earlier this week. Must have been those naughty little leprechauns playing tricks in Amazon warehouses. See? There it is, my own little pot of gold!
This cake recipe is an old recipe, cut from a newspaper or magazine long ago, and modified a bit over the years. I know I left out raisins, because “raisins ruin everything” according to Karl. It seemed like I often ended up with a bit of applesauce in the bottom of the large jar I used to buy when the kids were little, so I always had a ready supply. Now I always have those little individual containers of applesauce on hand for the grandkids. Since they each hold 1/2 cup, I knew I was all set.
The compote is something new that I came up with, so I could use up those apples. Although it has a caramelized flavor, it is simpler than caramel, and comes together quickly.
This cake is mixed up in a non-traditional way but still works: Combine all of the dry ingredients including the sugar and set it aside. Cream the softened butter, then add the dry mixture, a bit at a time. You don’t want flour all over you and the counter, so go slow. It will look very thick. Add the wet ingredients all at once and you will end up with a smooth batter.
Years ago, I was in a baking competition sponsored by Bundt. Everyone was worried about getting their cakes to come out of the pan smoothly and completely. I swear by this method, and have to thank my Home Economics teacher from junior high school. She always preached, “Generously Grease, Lightly Flour” as the perfect method to get cakes smoothly out of pans. So that is what I always do–it worked at the competition and it worked again this time.
I don’t usually mention name brands, but the flour I use for coating cakes is Wondra, “quick-mixing” flour. You can see it in the photo of ingredients above–it comes in a blue can, rather than a bag. I use it so often for cake pans, I forgot that it dissolves easily and is great for thickening gravy and sauce. My friend and fellow food blogger, Jovina, reminded me of that. Check out her informative and wonderful blog here: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/
There is a second part of the technique to get cakes out without leaving part of it in the pan: After baking the cake, let it cool exactly ten minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Set your timer if needed. Cakes are fragile when hot, so you can’t turn them out right away. But they are best unmolded from their pan while they are still warm because cakes tend to stick to the sides when completely cool. This is true no matter what kind of cake pan you use: round, square, loaf or specialty pans.
When the cake is completely cooled, dust it with confectioner’s sugar. I keep the cake on the rack as I sift the confectioner’s sugar over it above the sink.
I made the compote while the cake was baking, so it could cool off a bit, but still be warm enough to drizzle over and enhance the cake. It is very quick (once you get those apples peeled and cut up). Simply melt the butter; add water and brown sugar. Stir -I just had to show off my cute little spatula-to combine, then add the apples. Let it simmer along, stirring it occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Add some cinnamon and set it aside until ready to serve the cake. Of course, adding a little freshly whipped cream never hurts…
APPLESAUCE CAKE WITH APPLE COMPOTE
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter, or Earth Balance nondairy butter, softened
- 1 cup milk or alternative milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
- 3 large eggs
- Wondra, or additional flour for pan
- 2 Tablespoons butter or dairy free alternative
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Freshly Whipped Cream, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, cream butter for 1 minute; add the flour mixture about half at a time, mixing on low speed until blended. Add milk, vanilla, eggs and applesauce. Mix on medium for about 2 minutes, or until well combined and smooth.
Spray a Bundt pan with cooking oil spray until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle additional sifted flour or Wondra over pan. Dump out excess. Scrape batter into pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middles comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, then invert, remove pan and continue cooling on rack. When completely cooled, sift confectioner’s sugar over top.
To make Apple Compote:
Peel and cut apples into small dice.
Melt butter in small pan, add water and apples. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Check to see if apples are soft, if not simmer a few minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon.
Cool slightly before serving on top of the cake. This compote is also good on waffles or over ice cream.