Wednesday 17 October 2007

Fondants aux Pommes

Its time again for Sugar High Fridays, and this time, SHF #36 is hosted by Spittoon Extra with a theme of Drunken Apples. As you may surmise then, in order to participate, one needs to find a recipe that pairs apples with alcohol.

When I first read the theme, my mind instinctively thought to make something French since I often come across French recipes that combine apples with Calvados, an apple brandy from Lower Normandy. So I reached into my bookshelf for my copy of Paris Sweets and started searching for a recipe. It wasn't long before I found the recipe for Soft Apple Cakes, or Fondants aux Pommes - doesn't it sound so much more poetic in French? The alcohol used for this recipe, however, is rum not Calvados as it is the raisins, which also go into the apple cakes, that are soaked in the alcohol.

As Dorie Greenspan promises in her introduction to these treats, which originate from the famed Boulangerie Kayser, the cake in this recipe is incredibly soft and creamy. Not at all like the texture of a muffin even though this is the type of tray in which they are baked in. Combined with the sweetness of the apples and the slight kick from the rum, it makes for an irresistible snack. Bet you can't stop at just one!

PS: Special credit goes to M for helping me with flambe-ing the raisins. Something I didn't dare do on my own!

Fondants aux Pommes
From Paris Sweets

60g moist, plump raisins
30g dark rum
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 to 4 large apples, peeled and cored
105g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp double-acting baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
100g sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
60g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Soak the raisins in hot water for about 4 minutes, until they are puffed. Drain, drop them into a small saucepan, and, stirring constantly, warm them over low heat until they are very hot. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the rum over the raisins, and, standing back, ignite the rum with a match. Swirl the pan until the flame goes out.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325F. Line 20 muffin molds with cupcake liners.

Put the lemon juice in a large bowl. Cut each apple in half from top to bottom, cut each half into 1/4 inch slices, and then cut the slices crosswise in half. Toss the slices in the bowl with the lemon juice.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Put the eggs and sugar in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until the eggs are pale and voluminous, about 4 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Switch to a large rubber spatula and stir a couple of spoonfuls of the batter into the melted butter. Working gently, fold the flour into the remaining batter, followed by the melted butter, apples and raisins.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling each mold just about to the top, and slip the tins into the oven. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, rotating the tins top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking; the cakes are done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the tins to a rack and wait for 5 minutes before gently lifting the cakes, in their papers, from them. Allow the cakes to cool to tepid or room temperature before serving.

Makes 20 little cakes