This is an updated old-lady recipe, made by many a grandma. It is a perfect dessert for fall when apples are at their prime. Long ago, a relative served a similar cake, and I begged for the recipe. She never shared it, and I later found out the cake came from her local bakery—not her kitchen. – Tracey Zabar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1⁄2 small apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
2⁄3 cup plus 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 cup pecan or walnut halves Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting Dried apple slices, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter one 5-inch well of a Bundt quartet pan, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, toss the apple cubes with the 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated sugar, the brown sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, the remaining 2⁄3 cup granulated sugar, and salt. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to incorpo- rate. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix just until combined. With a silicone spatula, fold in the nuts, and then scrape half the batter into the pre- pared pan.
Add the apple-sugar mixture on top of the batter, being careful not to let the mixture touch the cen- ter tube or edges. Add the remaining batter, and gently smooth the top with a silicone spatula.
Bake until browned and set, about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove the cake from the hot pan and cool it completely on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and top with dried apple slices.
RECIPE EXCERPTED FROM SWEET LITTLE CAKES FROM MRS. ZABAR’S BAKESHOP: PERFECT DESSERTS FOR SHARING, BY TRACEY ZABAR. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELLEN SILVERMAN. RIZZOLI, 2023. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION.