Sunday, March 11, 2007
When my running buddies and I get together at races, I often bring baked goods to share with my friends. Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to get baked goods in return. When I traveled to North Carolina for the Outer Banks Marathon last November, I almost got to sample a treat that has become so legendary in our running community that it is known simply as The Cake. Unfortunately, an untimely storm and a flooded highway got between me and my chance to try The Cake on that trip. Fortunately, I was able to partake of The Cake just a couple of weeks later when a bunch of us met up at the Philadelphia Marathon.
The Cake is a specialty of my friend Alison. This chocolate pound cake features chunks of chopped apple and gets a flavor boost from cinnamon and nutmeg. (Alison insists that freshly grated nutmeg is the only way to go for The Cake.) After my first taste of The Cake, I was hooked. I never think of apples and chocolate as a flavor combination, but they work well in this treat. The cinnamon and nutmeg are great partners with the chocolate, too.
In Alison's recipe, The Cake is baked in a plain tube pan. A layer of chocolate chips melted atop the nearly finished cake serves as an icing. Because I can't leave well enough alone, I tweaked the recipe the first time I made it. I baked The Cake in a Bundt pan, then drizzled it with a chocolate glaze. For The Cake Version 2.0, I substituted pears for apples. Pears, the chocolate, and the spices are a great team.
With Alison's permission, I'm posting the recipe here. If you'd like to use a 12-cup Bundt pan instead of the tube pan, that's fine. Baking time is the same. If you use the Bundt option, The Cake is great unadorned, although a simple chocolate glaze is nice. I've been using a glaze I adapted from a recipe in Elinor Klivans's Fearless Baking. Combine 1/2 cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, and add 1-1/3 cups chocolate chips. Stir gently. After the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth, let the glaze rest til it's slightly thickened before drizzling over the cooled cake. For my taste, this recipe makes twice as much glaze as I need for this cake. I refrigerate the leftover.
Chocolate Apple Spice Cake
2 sticks butter
2 c. sugar
½ c water
2 ½ c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg (fresh is better)
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c chocolate chips, plus extra for "icing"
2 apples (peeled and chopped)
1 Tbsp vanilla
Cream butter with sugar
Beat in eggs and water
Add flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cocoa and cinnamon
Stir in vanilla, chocolate chips and apples
Turn into a greased and floured tube pan
Bake at 325F for 1 ¼ hours
Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean
"Icing:" During the last 3-5 min of baking, pour extra chocolate chips on top of cake, allow to melt. Smooth out once cake comes out of the oven.