I always bake a special cake for my mother’s birthday, even though she and I live far apart and won’t be together that day. Usually I bake a carrot cake, using the recipe she gave me almost twenty years ago. This time, I tried the apple cake she has been raving about. It is called Nobby Apple Cake, and recipes for it are all over the internet, each with its own variation, including a spelling variation of “knobby.”
My variation is Whole Wheat Nobby Apple Cake. If you have been reading my baking recipes, you know by now that I favor less sugar in desserts, as well as exchanging white flour with whole wheat flour. Ever since I read that paste for school crafts is made with white flour and water, I’ve cast a wary eye at white flour in recipes. I use white flour for special occasion cakes when appearance can trump nutrition, but I prefer whole wheat flour for every-day baking. My family and friends love my cakes and other desserts. Often, they don’t realize they are eating whole wheat flour and are surprised when I tell them. This has given me confidence to carry on with whole wheat exchanges.
While fuji or gala apples are recommended for baking, I used small red delicious apples. This time of year, trucks go through the streets, announcing over their tinny loud speakers, “Manzanas de Chihuahau!” The small apples are sometimes a little wormy, which I prefer. The worm holes are easily trimmed out, and mean, I hope, that the apples were not sprayed. I’ll take a few apple worms over pesticides any day.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. F (180 C). Butter and flour 9″ (228 mm.) round cake pan or a small tube pan, using buttered parchment paper in bottom of pan for fool-proof removal of cake.
- Mix the dry ingredients (flour through sugar) in the mixing bowl for 30 seconds to blend.
- Add the butter and mix on low speed until evenly blended; mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate batter.
- Add the beaten egg and vanilla in three parts, beating on medium speed 30 seconds with each addition.
- Fold in apples, nuts and raisins. Spoon into prepared pan and level top.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until top of cake begins to lightly brown. Sides should pull away from the pan after cake is removed from oven. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack and cool completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
This recipe follows the mixing procedure used by Rose Levy Beranbaum in her cakebooks, The Cake Bible and Rose’es Heavenly Cakes, the best cakebooks I know of.
If you use whole wheat flour, sift it first to remove the bran and save it for the next time you bake bread or muffins. If using all whole wheat is too much of a change for you, try using half whole wheat and half white flour, something I sometimes do when I want a special cake that is extra tender.
If you don’t have superfine sugar, process regular sugar in a food processor for three minutes until fine.
Washington state apples have shown dangerous levels of pesticides in the past. Tests found that there were enough chemicals on half an apple to exceed safe levels if eaten by a small child. Buy and eat organic.