I have had The French Laundry Cookbook on my shelf since November 2003—a long time. In these many years, I have made exactly one recipe from it. This one, in October 2004. I swear it is the only recipe in the whole book that I felt competent to tackle. But it quickly joined my list of “keepers” and has become a fall staple. Sally Schmitt was one of the original owners of The French Laundry Restaurant. She and her husband passed the restaurant and this recipe along to Thomas Keller when they decided to devote themselves to their apple orchards some distance to the north.
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup milk or half and half
1 cup fresh cranberries, at room temperature, defrosted if previously frozen
Cinnamon sugar: 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Hot Cream Sauce, see recipe below
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-inch cake pan or spring-form pan. Put a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
2. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Slice them into ¼-inch wedges.
3. Beat together the butter, sugar, and egg in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients until the mixture is fluffy and light in texture.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not over beat; mix just until the ingredients are combined.
5. Spoon the batter into the pan. Press the apple slices into the batter, about ¼ inch apart and core side down. Work in a circular pattern like the spokes of a wheel. Put most of the cranberries in the middle of the cake and the remaining around the edges. Poke some into the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
6. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cake bounces back when softly pushed in the middle. Set on rack to cool briefly or let cool to room temperature.
7. Serve the kuchen in a good-sized puddle of the hot sauce. Pass the remainder in a pitcher.
Hot Cream Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1. Combine the cream, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 5-8 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly.
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook