Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Crab Apple Cake (or Apple Cake from Paradise)

Crab apples (Malus paradisiaca) are quite popular in Estonian gardens, as they're rather decorative throughout the year - gorgeously pink blossoms during the spring and early summer, attractive tiny red fruits during the autumn (don't you agree?). However, their use is rather limited - they're too tart for eating as a dessert apple, they're a pain to clean for preserving. The traditional way of preserving them is pickled whole in a sweet-and-sour marinade and used as a garnish on various dishes during winter. Not bad, but a bit boring IMHO.

A sweet soul brought me two kilograms (that's just over four pounds) of crab apples the other week, and I wanted to make a jam according to a recipe given to me years ago. I began quartering and coring the tiny apples, and quickly gave up. Way too much hassle, you see. I decided to do something different and a lot easier - a crab apple spread. (You can see the result here). I fell immediately in love with the colour - and the flavour - of that spread. So when a local newspaper asked me to provide an apple cake recipe for one of their forthcoming issues, I knew I'd be patient enough and quarter and peel those tiny apples anyway.

I quickly sourced another batch of crab apples, and used them in one of my good and trusted apple cake recipes instead of regular apples. I think that simple cake looks simply spectacular because of the crab apples.

Crab apples, by the way, are known as 'paradise apples' in Estonian. So I could call this a Paradise Cake or Apple Cake from Paradise:)

Crab Apple Cake
Serves about 10

The pastry:
200 g unsalted butter
200 g sour cream
350 g all purpose/plain flour
0.5 tsp salt

The filling:
about 400 g crab apples (cleaned weight)
sugar, according to taste (I used 4 Tbsp)

1 egg white, for brushing

Melt the butter, then mix with sour cream, flour and salt until combined. The dough is very soft at this stage. Cover the bowl with a cling film and place to the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, quarter and core the crab apples.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the very nicely malleable dough into a large rectangle (about twice the size of your small to medium sized baking sheet). Carefully lift the dough and transfer half of it onto your baking sheet, leaving the other half to hang over the edge.*
Spread the apples over the pastry, then season with sugar and cinnamon. Fold over the other half of the pastry, and press the edges firmly together.
Brush with a egg white.
Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 200 C/400 F oven for about 35-40 minutes, until the apples are cooked and the cake is lovely golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little before cutting into squares.

* You can also simply divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll into 2 rectangles - one for the base and the other for the top.
PS You can obviously make this cake with regular apples instead - it'd be just as tasty, if not looking just as spectacular.


Champsleeve said...

I had a crab apple tree in my yard growing up and we have one at our house now. They are beautiful, especially when they get those pink blooms. I never thought you could eat the fruit though. I wonder if there are different kinds in the US and ours aren't edible?


ChichaJo said...

Love how you've used an underutilized fruit in such a delicious way! I love your apple cakes :)

chriesi said...

Your apple cake looks great! I remember I tried these once when I was a child, but since then I haven't even seen them.

Alanna said...

Oh so pretty!! I love crabapples, my aunt and uncle had a big tree right outside their dining room window (and kept lights in it all year round, just for the effect of having pretty lights just outside the dining room table) but all we ever did with them was to make pickled crabapples -- so this has me hankering to find / plant a tree!

Claudia said...

Congratulations on using creatively what is available to you. And, what a beautiful color that jam is.

Here, in Hawaii, it's our tiny strawberry guavas, both yellow and red, with lots of seeds. I've found the easiest way of using them is in wine. No peeling or de-seeding necessary; everything gets dumped into a net bag in the fermentation bucket.

Anonymous said...

it was really delcious one, i had great chance to taste it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Pille, I have just discovered 3 trees of crab apples in the nearby park and was wondering if they would be of any use for me. I will definitely make your cake but also would like to ask if you could post a recipe how to make that "boring" pickles :D

Anonymous said...

Never had this before. It looks great next to that cup of tea.


Heatherfeather said...

This looks wonderful! I wish I could get crab apples here. I used to love them when I was a kid.

Pille said...

Dana - most crabapples are edible, so I bet is the one in your yard. Do give them a go!

ChichaJo - I couldn't resist the colour, you know :)

Chriesi - hope I brought back some nice childhood memories :)

Alanna - we've just planted 3 or 4 crabapple trees in our garden - all different varieties, so I can make rainbow-coloured apple cakes next year :) PS YOU MUST come and visit!!!!

Claudia - thanks! I've now also posted the jam recipe.

Maarja - aitäh, et purgi puhtaks limpsisid ;)

Anon. - I'll see what I can do with re: the pickle recipe :)

Paz - thank you!

Heatherfeather - did you eat them raw?

Christine Medifast said...

I miss my old house. We had a crab apple tree in the backyard and I was always making something crab apple when they were finally ready.

This recipe sounds so delicious. I have never done a crab apple cake, but if I can ever get my hands on some I think I may have too.

I have always been a fan of crab apples, even the tummy aches from eating too many, but its worth it!

Thanks for sharing this recipe. So tasty!

Christine M.

Anonymous said...

i just made this recipie and it looks and tastes so good.

i replaced the sour cream for creek yogurt and i think its yummy