The pandemic has changed up my farmers market schedule -- I no longer frequent the downtown markets that were convenient to my office, as I haven't set foot in my office since March 2020. While there are still plenty of markets in upper Northwest DC that are easy enough for us to get to, I've also started occasionally visiting a market in Arlington, VA; I recently stumbled upon it because it's close to the house of friends I often visit during the weekend. It turns out that one of the vendors at the Arlington market is an orchard in MD that has an excellent selection of apples -- and it's the same orchard that has a stand at the mid-week market closest to my office where I regularly purchased apples. And so this is a long way of saying that I was finally able to get a hold of Calville Blanc apples again in the fall after not having a source since the 2019 season.
With my Calville Blancs in hand, I decided to use them in the "Big Apple Crumb Cake" from Smitten Kitchen. This cake has three components, but the recipe is straightforward. You prepare the apples by coring and slicing them (I also peeled mine first), and tossing them with lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar. The crumbs are a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, kosher salt, and flour. And to make the cake batter, you beat softened butter with sugar until fluffy; add an egg, sour cream, and vanilla; and incorporate flour, baking powder, and salt. You pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan; tessellate the apples on top of the batter and pour on any cinnamon sugar liquid formed from the apples; and sprinkle on the crumbs.
USA Pan biscotti pan. The interior dimensions of the biscotti pan are 12-inches by 5.5-inches, meaning its volume is virtually identical to a 8-inch square pan. I like being able to mix up the shapes of cakes and bars.
I liked being able to cut the cake that I baked in the biscotti pan into slim fingers; every slice was identical and you could see the tidy layer of apples between the cake and the crumbs. The crumbs in this cake were perfect -- distinct and varied in size, crunchy, and buttery. The cake was plush and the cinnamon apples were a nice addition -- although in retrospect I wish I had cut the apples a bit thicker, because I would have like a bit more apple flavor. But I have no complaints about this cake -- every component was delicious and the generous amount of those wonderful crumbs made a lasting impression.
Recipe: "Big Apple Crumb Cake" from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.