Genius Apple Cake

Every week on Food52.com, we're digging up Genius Recipes -- the ones that make us rethink cooking myths, get us talking, and change the way we cook.

Today: The holiday season's lovable anytime cake -- breakfast, snack, and show-stopping dessert all in one.

- Kristen Miglore, Senior Editor, Food52.com

If food magazines were like fashion magazines, this cake would be the cape you're encouraged to wear to brunch, the mountaintop lodge, and the opera.

It has a chameleon-like ability to please everyone and fit in everywhere, and it is named, charmingly, Teddie's Apple Cake.


>>RELATED: See our 10 favorite apple recipes for fall.

It was first published in 1973 by Jean Hewitt, former food reporter and home economist at the New York Times. But it came to our attention more recently as one of the top five reader-recommended recipes in Amanda's book, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, along with other classics we know and love: David Eyre's Pancake and Chocolate Dump-It Cake.

Serve it with coffee for breakfast, with whipped cream for dessert. Dust it with powdered sugar and set it aloft on a cake plate; or leave it out on the counter for all-hour snacks. Gift it; freeze it; portion it out for a bake sale. Corny wordplay aside, this is the teddy bear of cakes -- lovable, wholesome, and carefree.

But you can give it some edge, too. We've quietly, but definitively, moved away from the Red Delicious apples that Hewitt recommended toward more self-respecting Honeycrisp or Granny Smith. And you can push even further: swap in booze-soaked raisins or darker sugars, whole wheat or olive oil. Douse it in this caramel glaze or this hard sauce. Amanda has toyed with every inch of this cake and rightly calls it "indestructible".

>>RELATED: Love baking with fruit? Check out our never-fail Banana Bread.

You may by now be asking: Who is this genius Teddie? We don't know. Yet. This marks the first recipe in our Genius Recipes series with an anonymous genius. Jean Hewitt didn't let on in the original article.

So if anyone knows the whereabouts of Teddie, could you please tell him -- or her -- the Internet is looking for them? And also thank you, from all of us.

>>RELATED: 10 desserts with 5 ingredients (or fewer!).

Teddie's Apple Cake

Adapted very slightly from The New York Times, Jean Hewitt, and Teddie

Serves 8

Butter for greasing pan
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced tart apples like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts and raisins and stir until combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before lifting out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

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Want more genius recipes? Try Virginia Willis' Deviled Eggs or Barbara Kafka's Simplest Roast Chicken.

Have a question about this (or any other) recipe? Ask the Food52 Hotline!

Photos by James Ransom