Just to set things straight, this is not a dessert from Mexico. It is from south of the border, but way south. In fact, south of the Equator. When thousands of Germans immigrated to Chile (and many other countries, including Mexico) in the 19th century, they took their recipes for breads, pastries and cakes (and beer!) with them. Kuchen de Manzana con Migas evolved in Chile, based on Apple Kuchen from Germany. It translates to Apple Cake with Crumbs, or crumble, as we might say.
There are German communities in Mexico, and I would like to think that somewhere a Mexican-German family is baking Kuchen de Manzana today. Maybe Frida Kahlo, of German heritage, baked this cake. Maybe Vincente Fox, the former president (whose immigrant ancestors changed their name from Fuchs to Fox), enjoyed it at his family’s table. In any case, this is a cake worthy of Chile’s and Mexico’s German immigrant heritage.
It’s apple time in Mexico, when small manzanas criollas, sometimes called manzanas nacionales, start making an appearance in the local grocery stores. They always used to have a wormhole or two, and be a little misshapen. That wormhole was, for me, a seal of not being sprayed. At least, I liked to tell myself that. Now the only ones I see are wormhole-less, sprayed no doubt, but still good and definitely better than the carbon footprint it takes to get apples from Washington State to Mexico.
This cake has three elements — an egg-rich, buttery, cake-like crust, an apple filling, and a streusel crumb topping. It is baked to my usual specs of using part whole wheat flour and less sugar. I used homemade, cultured butter, but sweet cream butter will work just as well. It took a few zen minutes to arrange the apple slices. Not to create a pattern, but to fit the slices as closely as possible. When ready to serve, dust the cake with azúcar glass (confectioner’s sugar) if you wish, but I think that might be gilding the lily.
Kuchen de Manzana con Migas serves 8
- 1 cup (120 g) whole wheat flour
- 1 cup (120 g) white, all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon if using salted butter)
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (128 grams) very cold butter, cut into 1″ (2.5 cm) pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1.8 lbs. (850 k) apples
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup (120) g) whole wheat flour (or white ( flour)
- 1/3 cup (67 g) brown sugar or musovado, not packed (for those in Mexico, this is known as azúcar mascabado)
- 8 tablespoons (113 g) butter
- pinch of salt if butter is unsalted
- Line bottom of a 9″ (228 mm) springform pan with parchment paper. Butter sides. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and adjust oven rack to center of oven.
- For crust, mix flours, baking powder, sugar and salt briefly in food processor or by hand.
- Add butter, and process just until mixture resembles cornmeal, or blend butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing just until dough starts to form a ball.
- Press into springform pan, pressing dough 1.5″ (38 mm) up sides of pan. Chill in freezer while preparing filling and topping.
- For filling, peel and core apples. Slice into quarters, then slice each quarter into 4 slices. Toss with lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.
- For topping, blend flour and sugar in food processor or by hand. Blend in butter until crumbly looking, and starting to form small lumps.
- Arrange apples slices on pastry crust, fitting slices closely to each other.
- Evenly top apple slices with crumb topping.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until topping is starting to brown and apples test tender with a paring knife or skewer.
- Cool on cake rack 30 minutes. Run thin knife around inside of pan to release sides. Remove side of pan. Cool for one more hour before slicing. Refrigerate leftovers.
~ My grocery receipt lists these apples as “manzana criolla” — wild apple. But they are not wild at all. Apples originated in central Asia, and they likely arrived in Mexico with Spanish colonists. These apples from Pepe’s in Mascota are Galas, so Russ says, and I think he’s right. Galas keep their shape when baked, and their natural sweetness allows for a decrease of sugar in a recipe.
~ Other apples which maintain their shape and texture when baked include Granny Smith, Winesap, Pink Lady, Braeburn and Honeycrisp.
~ Mascabado sugar is Mexico’s equivalent of brown sugar. It is less refined than white sugar, containing some molasses, and comes either light or dark brown in color. Muscovado, also unrefined cane sugar, is the same thing.
~ Mangos, pineapples, and bananas are typically thought of as the fruit of Mexico, and it came as a surprise to us to discover an apple season when we moved here. Our part of Mexico, the mountains of Jalisco, grows peaches and plums. We have yet to encounter local cherries and apricots, but I’m hopeful.
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