I came across this recipe on Epicurious and immediately thought that someone named Marie-Hélène obviously must make an amazing apple cake. To fill you in a bit on the back story (I had to do some digging) Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhoste is a friend of Dorie Greenspan (enough said, right?) as well as a top editor of the Louis Vuitton City Guides, and one of the restaurant critics for the Paris edition. And she’s French. And bakes. Basically, I would eat anything that Marie-Hélène wants to make.
As the story goes, this recipe is Dorie Greenspan’s interpretation of Marie-Hélène’s cake, as she naturally doesn’t use a recipe and makes it by feel (and a little different) every time. The recipe is pretty fantastic, if I may say so myself (huge Dorie fan here!), although halfway through, I was convinced that this was going to be a flop.
A few things to watch out for:
- This is more apple than cake. As you’re mixing the apples into the batter, you’ll have a moment of near-panic when you’re looking at a bowl of apples with some batter on them, and thinking that there is no way this will ever set up / make anything. Hold true to the recipe – it does work. I’ve included a few photos just so you get a sense of just how much apple I’m talking about.
- A side note on the apples: I cut mine in chunks, as the recipe calls for. Looking at the pictures in the Epicurious recipe, my guess would be that they cut their apples in thinner slices, more like you would for an apple pie (maybe cut in half, though). All will taste great, just a slightly different aesthetic!
- My cake had to cook about 30 minutes longer than the recipe recommends. It just stayed sooooo moist from all the juice of the apples that it just needed a lot more time. In the end, I took it out before burning, but never really got to a point where a knife inserted in the middle was coming out clean. Luckily, as the cake cooled, it did look as if it was cooked enough, but I was pretty deflated as I was taking it out of the oven, and was almost certain that I would be chalking this up to a loss.
- Use the springform pan. I didn’t have one (literally since making this, I have gone out and bought one), but it will make your life so much easier. The cake is so moist that inverting it / trying to get it out of a regular cake pan nearly destroys it. I got lucky, honestly, as I was convinced that it would completely fall apart.
Other than that, the recipe is super simple and clean. Do use the rum (it tastes amazing) and do use the four different types of apples. Don’t be shy putting them in — it’ll be a ton of apples and it will 100% taste amazing.
There are just two of us, and we ate the whole cake in 2 days. Just saying. Guess there will be a lot of gym time in my future this week!
Let me know how it works for you! If you’re in doubt, just cook it a little longer, but be patient. It will turn out!
You can find the full recipe here.