Here is my dirty little secret: (Ok, so it's neither dirty, nor a secret. Semantics.) Jerusalem is not my favorite Ottolenghi cookbook. Gasp! Shock and dismay! Don't get me wrong, I love Jerusalem. I love, love, love Jerusalem. I am cooking my way through Jerusalem, but it is not my sun and my stars. My most favorite Ottolenghi cookbook, is simply put, Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi was Yotam and Sami's first cookbook, and it is filled with recipes from their store, Ottolenghi. It is more rambling and yet somehow more grounded than either Jerusalem or Plenty. It's a very real book- the foods in it are distinguished by the fact that people love to eat them rather than by genre or geography, which makes it eclectic, meandering and friendly. Everything I've cooked from it has been great, and I find myself coming back to those recipes again and again and again. In fact, I've pared Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar and Lemon down to its very basics- around here everyone just calls it Ottolenghi Chicken.
This Rosh Hashana, I was faced with the task of feeding vegetarians. Ordinarily this would not be a difficult task, but somehow on Rosh Hashana it seemed like a test indeed. Whence brisket and chicken with dates? To hearten myself against this arduous task, I decided it was time to expand my Rosh Hashana dessert repertoire. Usually, I make nothing but honey cake, honey cake, honey cake, but this year I could move beyond that. I could use butter and milk and cream. The possibilities were endless. I went with Ottolenghi. After all, how could I resist a recipe called Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing? I mean how could I? Lucky for me, my brother had just recently gifted me with a large jug of real, live maple syrup from the U.S. And let me tell you a thing: Cream cheese-maple frosting? Pretty fucking spectacular. Highly recommended. Totally worth the lack of brisket.
Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Frosting
Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
So. Here's the thing: much as I love olive oil cakes, I don't think the olive oil in this cake is strictly necessary. The frosting is intense enough that you don't really feel the delicacy of the olive oil. The next time I make it, I'll probably just save some money and use vegetable oil. If however, you are making the cake without frosting, definitely use olive oil. Also, Ottolenghi's original recipe calls for 80 grams of raisins. I don't like raisins in my apple cake, but if you'd like to add them, feel free to do so. (Simmer the raisins in 4 tablespoons of water until the water is absorbed before adding).
280 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
120 ml olive oil or vegetable oil
160 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites
100 grams butter at room temperature
100 grams light muscovado sugar
85 ml maple syrup
220 grams cream cheese at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 350 f. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
2. In a freestanding mixer, beat the oil, sugar and vanilla, using a paddle attachment. (If you don't have a freestanding mixer, use a hand-held one.) Add the eggs one at a time, until the batter is smooth and thick. Mix in the apples and lemon zest. Fold in the dry ingredients.
3. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold them into the batter in two additions. The batter will be stiff and thick even after you have added the egg whites.
4. Pour the batter into a greased and lined 8-inch springform pan. Bake 1 1/2* hours, or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool and remove from pan.
5. Make the frosting: Beat together the butter, sugar and maple syrup until light and airy. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
6. Assemble the cake: Use a serrated knife, to cut the cake in half, horizontally. Spread a layer of frosting on the bottom half of the cake. Carefully top with the top half of the cake. Spoon the rest of the frosting on top and smooth with a knife. (To make ahead, do not frost the cake. Wrap well and refrigerate it for up the three days. Frost before serving.)