APPLE cranberry SAMBUCA maple cake

The fabulous flavour combo of APPLES, sweet MAPLE and ANIS aromas
dancing through our home was unbearably teasing us with impatient anticipation.

Although, I've been meaning to share two of 
my favourite, no-fail and very tasty apple cake recipes...
I decided to put them on hold for now.
This time, I was truly in the mood to create something...
a little more gutsy and somewhat casually showier.

After an invigorating walk through our promenade in the woods...
...we were energetic enough for another rendez-vous with our favourite fruit.

We decided to head once more to the apple orchards to...
replenish our stock of this fantastic versatile fruit. 

In the past few weeks, I had seen apple cakes referring to... 
several versions of the very well known Italian 'Torta di mele'.
They did seem temptingly scrumptious, however, like usual...
I figured that as appetizing as they all appeared...
they were missing just a little more oomph!

Appealing sweet spirited thoughts were upon me once again ;o)

Since anis flavour pairs incredibly well with apples...
I decided that this hand-mixed cake was going to receive a little Sambuca spirit.

Most of you who have been following my culinary journey may have noticed...
how I've been challenging myself to plug in healthier ways of making desserts.

I tenaciously try to not only diminish the sugar quantity and variety...
I also try to reduce most of the refined white flour.

Therefore, for this particular apple Sambuca cake...
I went with an organic stone Whole Wheat flour...
and a special sweetener extracted from the Maple tree.

This time of year, fresh cranberries can enhance the health factor of our desserts...
so why not colourfully decorate and celebrate with this little tart reddish gem.


APPLE cranberry SAMBUCA maple cake
serves 10 persons
No need for electric mixer.

(American / Metric measures)

. 1/8 cup (30ml) Sambuca liquor **
. 1/8 cup (30ml) frozen orange concentrate, thawed
. 1/8 cup (37g) Maple sugar *
. 5 large baking Apples *** (a blend of different varieties)
. 2 cups (260g) Whole Wheat flour
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) baking powder
. 1 tsp. (5ml) sea salt
. 1/2 cup (75g) Maple sugar *
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) ground cinnamon spice
. 4 xLarge eggs
. 1 cup (250ml) light Olive oil
. 1/8 cup (30ml) Sambuca liquor **
. 20 fresh or frozen cranberries (for decor)

* Maple sugar ... imparts a very special flavour to desserts and carefully note that it is about twice as sweet as regular white sugar.  Also remember that it also browns quicker...therefore use it within the batter only.  Maple sugar comes from when almost all the water has been evaporated from boiled maple sap (syrup).  Therefore, a little of this sugar goes a long way.    For a more precise substitution of Maple Sugar:  If you absolutely need to substitute this wonderful ingredient...you can use a combination of white with brown sugars and the addition of a little Maple syrup: 1/2 cup (110g) white, 1/4 cup (50g) brown and 1/8 cup (30ml) syrup and not forgetting to reduce the oil by the equivalent amount of syrup added.  Note: There will be some Maple sugar left from this formula…use it for other recipes of choice.

** Sambuca liquor ... is generic for a very sweet-yet-piquant clear Italian liqueur flavored with anise, licorice root and an infusion with elderberry in a neutral spirit base.  Sambuca is similar to 'Anisette' but with a higher alcohol content.  Lots more info HERE.

*** Apples:  Make sure to use at least 2 varieties of apples with a certain baking purpose outcome.

First type, which when baked will become more tender as well as melt and blend into the cake batter... i.e.: Gala, McIntosh, Paula Red, Pink Lady, Redfree are all great choices.
Second type of apple should have a denser flesh for a better holding point as well as keeping their shape.
This apple will give the appeal that this cake ultimately offers ...  i.e.: Brae Burn, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Rome Beauty are all fabulous selections.


. Pre-heat the oven at 350F/180C/Gas4
. Place the rack on second shelf from the oven bottom.
. Lightly oil a 10 inch (25cm) spring form cake pan and place onto a baking sheet pan.

1. In a large bowl...whisk the Sambuca liquor with the orange concentrate and sugar.  Set aside.
2. Peel and core one apple at the time and add the medium thin slices to the bowl with the orange Sambuca liquid.   Always toss and coat the apples as you go along. Repeat with the remaining apples.  Cover the bowl and set aside as they macerate.
3. In a medium bowl, prepare to SIFT the following DRY ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon.   Now, make a well in the center.
4. Now, add in the eggs, oil, and the remaining Sambuca liquor. Give the center a good whisk.  Then, use a strong spatula to combine the rest just until all traces of flour have gone. Do not over mix.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Slightly shake and tap down the pan so that the batter spreads properly.

...APPLES to be ADDED:
6. Start with placing 1/3 of the apple slices.  Push them down the whole perimeter of the pan.  Afterwards, throughout the center, tightly nestle another 1/3 of the apples.  Push them down as well. The last 1/3 of the apple slices will serve to tidy up and decorate the rest of the cake.
7. Finish off the top by garnishing with the fresh (or thawed) cranberries.  Sprinkle the top with some granulated sugar (optional).
. BAKE for 80-90 minutes depending on the darkness of your cake pan.  Once out of the oven, leave it cool 10 minutes before unclipping the pan.
. Cool the cake to room temperature before serving. 


After our fabulous day at the nature park...
...the apple orchard was a great stop-over...
minus, of course, the scare we had with the bee nest!

You can imagine that we weren’t going to stick around...
to find out if Madame Queen bee was still in her workshop.

With so many apple cakes circling around lately...
I can only hope that you have a chance to try one more.
Perfume your house with this very scrumptious cake too ;o)

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.