- I like Granny Smith apples in this recipe because their tart flavor creates balance in the cake, but mostly because they don't blow out and turn to mush during baking. If you substitute the Granny Smiths, make sure it's with another firm-fleshed apple.
- For easy apple coring: Cut the peeled apples in half and scoop out the core with a metal 1-teaspoon measure. With a paring knife, trim out the ends.
- I prefer darker, more intense maple syrup (Grade A Dark Amber or Grade B), but you can use whatever you like.
- Remember to store maple syrup in the refrigerator or freezer (it won't freeze)—it's perishable and can grow mold, yeast, and bacteria.
- For the Brown Butter Apples:
- 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch dice (See Notes)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (See Notes)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- For the Cake:
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups maple syrup
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
For the Brown Butter Apples: Toss apples with lemon juice and salt. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat until beginning to foam, 3 to 4 minutes. Swirl the pan gently from time to time and continue to cook until the foam subsides and you see solids beginning to brown at the bottom of the skillet.
Add apples, syrup, and sugar to skillet and sautée until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. With slotted spoon, transfer apples to plate, leaving juices in skillet.
For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. With pastry brush, grease 9-inch springform pan with about 3/4 tablespoon butter. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper round and brush parchment with remaining butter.
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg; set aside.
In large bowl, beat remaining 4 tablespoons butter and oil on medium speed until light and fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add maple syrup and continue beating on medium speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with milk. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined, 20 to 30 seconds.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes until top is set and beginning to brown. Top with apples and continue baking until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes longer.
Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool in pan 10 minutes. Release and remove springform.
While cake is cooling, stir apple drippings in skillet and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened, bubbly, and reduced to about 1⁄4 cup. Immediately drizzle over cake.
Cool cake about 45 minutes and serve warm with ice cream. Cake may also be cooled completely and served at room temperature.
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