Apple Skillet Cake

Fall is apple season and during a recent trip to the market I scored several varieties of red, yellow, and green apples.  I’m not sure what types they were- the green ones looked similar to Granny Smiths, the red ones Macintoshes, and the yellow ones Golden Delicious.  All of the apples were grown in the Korce  region of southeastern Albania.  Korce is also home to an annual apple festival held each October and if you ask most Albanians, they will tell you that Korce apple are the best.  At least this is what my nanny and the woman and the local market assure me.

Spiced apples ready to go
With an abundance of fresh apples in hand, I set out to bake a sweet that featured this fall fruit.  Opting for easy, I selected King Arthur Flour’s Apple Skillet Cake.  This being Albania, however, I had to make substitutions with the ingredients I had on hand.  The first was with the flour.  I’m a huge fan of King Arthur Flour–it is the only brand I buy in the States– but after receiving several powdery filled shipments in the mail, I’m resorted to buying flour locally.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I find that I have to read the labels -whether they are in Albanian, Italian, or Greek- carefully since many flours have baking powder mixed in.  The recipe called for green apples but since I had a variety of types on hand, I went for a mixture.  I do this when I make  apple pies as well and personally prefer the different tastes and textures.  I compensated for the sweetness of the apples by reducing the amount of brown sugar slightly.
Apples and batter ready to bake
While the types of apple juice available in the stores is numerous, I have been unable to find anything that even closely resembles the apple cider called for in the recipe.  Thanks to Sidney’s love of all things juice, I had a carton of green apple juice on hand. I doubled the 3 tablespoons the recipe called for and boiled it down into a reduction.  The resulting syrup lacked the depth of flavor found in cider but I think it did the trick of adding moisture to the apples nicely.  To compensate for the lack of spices in the juice, I also increased the amount of apple pie spice the recipe called for.  I don’t usually use pre-made spice mixtures and think my own combination of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg and a dash of ginger is far superior to any store bought mix.  As part of my last spice shipment from Penzeys Spices, however, I had received a complimentary sample of apple pie spice so I decided to thrown this into the mixture.
I love any recipe that calls for using my big heavy cast iron skillet so was especially excited when I saw that the recipe suggested using one for baking.  Fortunately, my finicky, European sized oven is just large enough to hold the skillet.  On this day the oven decided to run hot so I knocked 15 minutes off of the baking time and the cake emerged sweet, moist and golden brown with that crust you can only get from cooking with cast iron.  After allowing the cake to cool slightly I had a slice with a cup of tea. The verdict:  easy and good and the perfect treat for a cool autumn afternoon.

Of course, a slice eaten with coffee for breakfast the next morning was also good.

With a bit of whipped cream, ready to eat!

 

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