Perhaps I am a hopeless Neanderthal, or perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock instead of interacting with the world at large, but I’ve never heard of cream cheese being put in apple cake.
And yet, there I was, scouring the internet looking for dessert inspiration and there it was…a scrumptiolicious-looking apple cake (did I mention it’s hard for me to resist a scrumptiolicious-looking apple cake?). I perused the ingredient list and there it was…cream cheese.
And here comes the Neanderthal part, because I then proceeded to Google the combination and found a limitless array of delicious looking recipes with cream cheese in them. Go figure.
I wish I could now remember (and find) that initial recipe that got me going on this cream cheese-apple cake kick, but I sadly cannot. I had opened and closed so many tabs on my computer that it’s forever lost.
I do remember that it only called for 2 oz. of cream cheese (and I used about 7 oz.) and that it called for cinnamon and nutmeg (which I scrapped for the zest of 1 lemon), and that it called for two eggs plus 1 egg yolk (while I just used the 2 eggs). But that’s pretty much all I can remember.
After making it, I realized that the flavor is very similar to the other apple cake on my food blog, but with three very important differences:
- This one does not require whipping egg whites. This translates into less cleaning and, just as importantly, less nervous hand wringing as we hope and pray for the egg whites to puff out like the cotton candy clouds we need for the other apple cake recipe.
- This one does not require using a springform pan, which requires you to cut out parchment paper to line the bottom. All you need to do is butter a baking pan and you’re good to go.
- This one, in requiring sprinkled sugar on top, offers a subtle but seductively crunchy crust. And because the sugar has been exposed to the heat of the oven, it tastes slightly caramelized to boot. Double magic.
While I absolutely adore both recipes, I vote for this apple cake when I am in a time pinch every time. And best of all, the taste buds don’t suffer one iota.
But enough talk.
making cream cheese apple cake
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-inch cast iron pan or round baking pan with 1 tablespoon of butter.
Sift 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl.
By the way, speaking of flour, I wanted to share that when measuring out flour for baking (which requires us to be so peskily precise), it is helpful to spoon it out into a measuring cup.
While it’s tempting, not to mention more speedy, to just dig the measuring cup into the container of flour, doing so ends up packing the flour. Consequently it adds more flour to the recipe, which could make the end result denser and heavier than what you’d like.
Also, you will see here that I am using a fine mesh sieve to sift the flour. That’s because while I did use to own a perfectly wonderful sifter, it got put in the washing machine by…er…a certain someone who shares my bed and whose name rhymes with Derek.
It was never the same after that. Clearly. Bits of flour hardened in the sieve layers of the sifter and my one and only attempt at using the blasted thing made me feel as though I was auditioning for a mariachi band.
I now use the sieve and get great results, soothed in the knowledge that my husband Erik…oops!…I mean, someone…. can absent-mindedly put it in the dishwasher to his heart’s content.
But enough of silly domestic woes.
Place 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of room temperature unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer.
Beat, using whisks, on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add 1 cup (about 7 oz.) of room temperature cream cheese.
Beat for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula when needed, until smooth.
Add 3/4 cup of sugar slowly, over the course of two minutes.
(You can add a cup of sugar if you like your desserts really sweet.) Continue to scrape down the sides of the bowl when needed.
Add 2 large, room temperature eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
When the batter looks fully incorporated, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and the zest of 1 lemon.
The batter will look slightly curdled at this point.
No fears…it will taste amazingly good once cooked!
On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until the flour is fully incorporated into the batter, which will very thick now.
Peel, core and dice 2 Golden Delicious apples (about a pound).
Add them to the batter and mix well.
Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of sugar evenly on top.
Place in the middle rack of the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden.
Allow to cool before serving. Makes 10 servings.