HoneyCrisp Apple Cake with Orange-Cinnamon Streusel

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This extremely moist cake, so moist you might say it is almost custardy, is a hit at a meeting, a barbecue or a fancy dinner party.

You really don’t need to make this cake with HoneyCrisp Apples. I just like the name; it has a romantic ring to it. I also like that HoneyCrisps taste great—they start out sweet and end up tart. They are also terrific for baking; they hold their shape. They have become so popular that they are now available year ‘round. I’ve also made the cake with Granny Smith and Braeburn apples.

I admit this isn’t the fastest cake to make in my repertoire. It takes a few steps, but you can get most of them done while the apples hang out in cinnamon and sugar for 20 minutes. I like the cake best made with creme fraîche, but sour cream makes a good substitute.

A couple of other things
I have been really frustrated with ground cinnamon lately. It seems to lack flavor. I’ve had the best luck when using cinnamon that comes from Vietnam. I usually measure generously because I love what it adds to baking. The orange in the streusel may seem like an insignificant amount, but it adds a subtle, refreshing hint of flavor which enhances the apples. .

Although it holds up beautifully for a couple of days, the streusel is never as crisp as the day it is made.

I usually don’t like gadgets, but LOVE this one—a peeler-corer-slicer. Worth every cent.

I usually don’t like gadgets, but LOVE this one—a peeler-corer-slicer. Worth every cent.

Put 18 to 20 apple slices aside for topping.

Put 18 to 20 apple slices aside for topping.

Microwave the remaining apples in a pie dish.

Microwave the remaining apples in a pie dish.

Brush slices with the syrup from the bottom of the soaked apple bowl.

Brush slices with the syrup from the bottom of the soaked apple bowl.

Spread half the batter in the pan. Layer the apples and cover with remaining batter.

Spread half the batter in the pan. Layer the apples and cover with remaining batter.

You can take it off the springform bottom by slipping spatulas underneath it when it’s cool.

You can take it off the springform bottom by slipping spatulas underneath it when it’s cool.

HoneyCrisp Apple Cake with Cinnamon Streusel

3 medium apples, such as HoneyCrisp , Granny Smith or Braeburn (1½ lbs.)
3 tablespoons + 1½ cups sugar. divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, room temperature
cup crème fraîche

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick spray.

  2. In a large bowl, toss together apples, 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Let stand for 20 minutes. Set aside 18 apple slices for topping and cut the remainder crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Put the pieces into a pie dish and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes until they bend easily. Reserve juices in bowl. Cool apple pieces to lukewarm or room temperature.

  3. Meanwhile, make streusel and set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1½ cups sugar.  Make a well in the center; add melted butter, eggs and crème fraÎche. Whisk until combined. Switch to a rubber scraper and stir up bottom and sides until well blended

  5. Spread half of the batter into prepared springform pan. Arrange apple pieces over batter, leaving a ¼-inch border and not piling them very thick in the center 2 inches.  Spoon remaining batter over apples; spread evenly. Arrange reserved apple slices in rings over batter. Brush with reserved cinnamon juices. Crumble streusel over to cover.

  6. Place springform on a baking sheet and bake 60 to 70 minutes or until center is well browned, and center feels firm when lightly pressed. Remove cake to rack to cool completely.

  7. Before serving, place springform on a bowl that is smaller than the diameter of the pan. Go around edges with a sharp knife, loosen clasp and let spring form sides slip down. Slip a knife between cake and springform bottom and remove cake from springform bottom to a platter, if desired.

To make ahead:  Cake may be stored at room temperature for 2 days or wrapped securely in foil and frozen.

Orange Cinnamon Streusel
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, zest, salt, cinnamon and flour. Stir in melted butter; use your fingertips to mix until crumbly. Use immediately or refrigerate or freeze.

 Makes one 9-inch cake; serves 12.

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