1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain vegetable oil (such as canola or soybean)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
seed scrapings from 1/2 of a small vanilla bean (optional)
2 1/2 cups peeled and cored apple chunks (about 4 apples, cut into rough 1/2 to 3/4-inch chunks), such as Jonathan, Empire, or Northern Spy (see notes below)
confectioners’ sugar, for sifting over the baked cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Film the inside of a plain or fluted 9-inch round baking pan (2 inches deep) with nonstick flour-and-oil spray.
For the batter, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture thoroughly.
Place the eggs in a medium-size mixing bowl and whisk well. Add the granulated sugar and whisk for 1 minute. Pour in the vegetable oil, then add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds (if using). Whisk for 45 seconds. Pour the eggs-and-sugar mixture over the flour mixture, scatter over the apple chunks, and stir to form a batter, using a flexible rubber spatula. The batter should be creamy-textured and bumpy with apple chunks.
Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it into an even layer, using a rubber spatula.
Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until risen, set, and a medium golden brown color on top. A wooden pick inserted 1 inch from the center will withdraw clean.
Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto another cooling rack, lift off the baking pan, then invert again to stand right-side up. Cool completely. Cut the cake into pie-shaped wedges for serving, using a serrated knife. Store in an airtight cake keeper.
For the finish, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top of each slice just before serving, if you like.
one 9-inch cake, creating one dozen slices
on baking day, or up to two days in advance, stored in an airtight cake keeper
◊ though custom prescribes using “cooking” apples, I have also used what has been on hand, like golden delicious–with excellent results
◊ the vanilla extract brings out the floral-fruity flavor of the new crop of autumn apples
◊ when storing the cake in a cake keeper, avoid enclosing it first in plastic wrap in order to retain the baked surface texture