Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso are the dynamic duo that wrote the definitive cookbook of the 1980s, The Silver Palate. The Silver Palate Apple Cake is one of the most beloved recipes from the book, and it just screams Fall.
Picture this: it’s 1982, Michael Jackson has just released Thriller, the first cd player is sold, Olivia Newton-John tops the charts, Cheers airs for the first time, E.T. is a box office hit, a gallon of gas costs 90 cents, and conversations revolve around Cabbage Patch dolls, Princess Di, and that newfangled invention, the computer. It’s the same year that Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso publish The Silver Palate cookbook, named after their successful gourmet shop in New York City. It’s destined to become the Joy of Cooking for a new generation. If you didn’t already have this cookbook in the early 80s, someone was bound to give you a copy. 1982 was also the year I got married, and so I definitely had a copy on my kitchen shelf.
APPLE CAKE (from The Silver Palate)
grease a 10 inch round cake pan, pre-heat the oven to 325.
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground mace (I used nutmeg)
1 1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
3 tbsp. Calvados (I used brandy because they didn’t have one of those cute tiny bottles of Calvados at the liquor store)
2 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. whole wheat flour, sifted
Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter. Stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar. Add 3 tablespoons Calvados or brandy, 1/4 cup sweet cider, 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, and 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour while still warm over warm cake.
In a large bowl, beat the vegetable oil and sugar until thick and opaque. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together all-purpose flour, cloves, cinnamon, mace, baking soda, and salt, then stir in whole wheat flour.
Add the dry ingredients to the oil mixture and blend. Stir in walnuts, apple chunks, and apple brandy. Stir to distribute pieces evenly.
Pour into a greased 10 inch round cake pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake rest for 10 minutes, then unmold and pour glaze over warm cake or cut cake and pour glaze over slices. (note: I used a 9 inch spring-form pan and cooked it almost 10 minutes longer)
I’m not a collector of cookbooks. A cookbook has to earn a place on my shelf, and the ones I don’t use get given away. The Silver Palate, classic that it is, never quite fit my style. From the very beginning I felt that the recipes had very long, almost cumbersome ingredient lists. That’s an instant turn off for me (kind of like shoulder pads and pegged jeans.) Over the years it sat on the shelf untouched, and when we moved last fall and did a sweep of all the extraneous stuff in our lives, I got rid of it. Use ’em or lose ’em. Sorry Silver Palate, that’s how I see it.
That said, this is a a lovely cake. It smelled heavenly every step of the way. I would be proud to serve it to guests, and it’s big enough for a crowd. Cakes topped with warm glazes were popular in the 80s. It makes for a very moist, almost wet interior. In this case it has a kind of apple pie effect. But I probably wouldn’t make this cake again just because it’s relatively involved and there are so many other recipes out there. The thing I’m taking away from this recipe is the combo of apples and brandy—I’m filing it away for the next time I’m baking with apples!