With so many beloved flavors of fall wrapped up in one sweet, decadent package, this cake is a family favorite at Thanksgiving each year, though I have to admit that I make it about once a week throughout the fall and winter. So long as I have local apples on hand, I am making this cake. Consider yourself warned, it is addictive.
3 medium apples (approximately 1 1/4 pound, I used Gala and Macoun), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups fresh ricotta
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together to make cinnamon sugar. Place the apple slices in a large bowl, add the cinnamon sugar to the apples, and stir to evenly distribute the cinnamon sugar. Allow the apples to macerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter (the remnants on the wrapper from the softened butter are good for this task).
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until it is creamed. Add the ricotta and vanilla extract and mix until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated.
In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until fully combined. Add the apple slices and any accumulated juices, and gently stir them (also known as "folding" them) into the batter.
Bake the cake on the middle rack until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour.
While the cake bakes, combine the apple cider, cinnamon stick, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, and cook until reduced by three-quarters (so that you have 1/4 cup of liquid remaining), 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Once cooled, remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
Combine the apple cider reduction, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, and sifted confectioners’ sugar in a small mixing bowl. Stir together until all of the confectioners’ sugar is absorbed into the liquid. Set aside.
Once the cake has cooled, remove the outer ring of the pan, using a knife to carefully free any cake that has adhered to the sides of the pan before pulling the outer ring away. Place the cake on a large plate or platter. Spoon the cider-maple glaze over the cake, starting in the middle and working out to the edges. Allow the glaze to seep into the cake for a minute or two, and then dig in. As the cake sits, it will continue to absorb the glaze, which, for me, makes it an ideal dessert or (somewhat decadent, but that's how we roll at Thanksgiving) breakfast option.
Now, if you prefer a topping more akin to frosting over a seeping-into-the-cake glaze, possibly because you simply cannot get enough sugar with your cake, which may sometimes happen to me, you could whip up a maple syrup glaze instead:
2/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used Grade A, though if you wanted a more intense maple flavor, you could use Grade B)
kosher salt to taste (I found that around 1/8th teaspoon worked well to balance the sweetness out)
Copyright 2009, Amy McCoy/Poor Girl Gourmet. May not be reprinted without permission.