Beneath the fruit topping lies a simple batter that comes together in minutes and bakes up tender and buttery. This cake can be as pretty as you want it to be: Whether you strew the apple slices haphazardly or fan them carefully, it will taste good.
You can replace the apples with pears or stone fruit, but juicy slices of plum, peach, nectarine or apricot should be allowed to drain on paper towels to soak up some of their juice, or else the finished cake will be soggy.
Servings: 8 - 12
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter , at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for brushing
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 to 3 small to medium crisp apples (may substitute pears or stone fruit; see headnote)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1 small or medium lemon)
- Ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking oil spray, or line with parchment paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs in a separate medium bowl until combined, then add them to the butter-sugar mixture along with the almond extract, beating to incorporate and stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
Turn the batter out into the prepared cake pan and use the flexible spatula to level the top.
Peel and core 2 of the apples. Use a mandoline or a sharp paring knife to cut them into thin slices, preferably about 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the slices on the cake in an overlapping pattern, covering as much of the surface as possible. Start with an outside ring of overlapping slices, then cover the center with more slices, cutting them to fit as needed and using the remaining apple if needed; or arrange them in any other pattern you like.
Brush the top of the cake with the melted butter, then with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste. Bake for 35 minutes. The cake is done when the top is slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Adapted from "Elegant but Easy," by Marian Burros (MacMillan, 1967).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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