Thursday, May 7, 2015

Apple-Pecan Mosaic Coffee Cake

I'm not a huge fan of raw fruit. It really depends on the fruit. I love raw berries, peaches, pineapple... but in most cases, I prefer either cooked fruit or fruit preserves. I know I know. It's the less healthy way to eat fruit, but it's just personal preference.

I'm not one to just grab an apple and bite right in. I prefer that apple either topped with crumble or crisp topping, stuffed between layers of pie crust, or, in this case, baked into an incredible coffee cake.

This cake is practically equal parts chopped apples and everything else. I didn't actually measure, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. A brown sugar batter made with half whole-wheat and half all-purpose flours is scented with tons of cinnamon and studded with dried cranberries and chopped nuts. A TON of chopped apples finish off the batter for this low-guilt coffee cake.

With the exception of some butter to grease the pan, this cake is dairy free, and even though it's not exactly diet, I can't help but feel "okay" about eating it. It's full contains a lot of apples! Nearly an apple a day depending on how many pieces you enjoy per serving ;-)

The crust is crisp and sweet (from the sugar in the batter and the natural sugars from the fruit) with tender, decadent chunks of apple and tart cranberries within. You can use either pecans or walnuts interchangeably for this coffee cake--I used pecan pieces from Trader Joe's and didn't even need to chop them!

This coffee cake is not only delicious and moist, a wonderful way to use up a surplus of apples, but it's also quite beautiful and truly does look like a mosaic once cut into slices. This would be excellent for entertaining, yet simple enough to make without an occasion.

Apple-Pecan Mosaic Coffee Cake
Makes one 9-to-10-inch bundt or tube cake (Serves 12 to 16)
(Adapted from Coffee Cakes: Simple, Sweet, and Savory)

1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large Gala, Granny Smith, Winesap, or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced (about 5 to 6 cups)
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-to-10-inch Bundt or tube pan.

Place the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant; let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Gently stir in the flour mixture until just blended. Stir in the apples, cranberries, and toasted nuts. The batter will be stiff and appear to be nearly equal parts apples and batter. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hours and 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cake is richly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold right side up on a wire rack. If desired, dust the cake with confectioners' sugar shaken through a sieve. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, cut into slices.

The cake keeps nicely for 4 to 5 days when refrigerated.


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