Welcome fall with this quick, lighter version of the classic Dutch Apple Cake. It has more apples plus healthy walnuts, half the fat and flour, and less than half the sugar. Instead of wasting time peeling apples, just slice them thinly and cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. The baked peels add texture and nutrition. In October 2012, I updated the recipe to use coconut spread or oil instead of butter.
This recipe is a tribute to Steve Jobs and to my mother-in-law (see notes below).
Active time: about 30 minutes. Total time: about an hour. Serves six to eight.
2 pounds Granny Smith or other tart baking apples, about 5 medium apples (900 grams)
1/4 cup white sugar (50 grams)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup Earth Balance coconut spread or coconut oil (57 grams)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour (60 grams)
1/2 cup walnuts (50 grams)
1/3 cup brown sugar (67 grams)
2 tablespoons water
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
- Cut each apple into quarters and cut out the core. Slice each quarter into four long slices, then cut slices across three or four times. Put apple pieces into baking pan as you go.
- Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle over apples.
- Mix flour and brown sugar in the bowl used for sugar mixture. Chop walnuts and stir into flour mixture. Melt coconut spread in a microwave-safe container, about 30 seconds on high power. Pour spread over flour mixture and stir until all flour is coated with butter, then crumble over top of apples.
- Pour water into container used to melt coconut spread, swish around to pick up remaining flavor, and pour into pan along the edge without wetting the topping.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until topping browns slightly and apples are fork tender. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve warm. Keeps covered at room temperature for a few days. Best reheated briefly before serving.
Recipe tips and notes
This recipe is a tribute to Apple visionary Steve Jobs, who saw the beauty in simplicity and living your true life. Steve was a vegetarian and animal lover. (Did you know that iPhoto face-recognition software recognizes cat faces as well as human ones?) What he said about work applies just as well to cooking:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
This recipe was inspired by my mother-in-law Catherine Watson's Dutch Apple Cake. At ninety two, she still doesn't settle, finding love and purpose in her life with a fascinating mix of hospitality, home cooking, and hard work for social justice. When we visited her last week, I made the mistake of saying she had made a difference. "Still am making one!" she piped up from her nursing-home bed. She's right, too.
Thank you, Steve Jobs and Mother Watson, for making the world a better place and moving others to join you.