Using up leftovers is a mitzvah (good deed) in this house. I hate to see food go to waste. So I felt good as I set out to make a glazed apple cider loaf cake with dried apple slices I had received as a gift, leftover apple cider I bought for recent party, and walnuts from an impulse purchase gigantic bag that seemed never-ending (Costco, you will be my downfall).
At first, I planned to throw those ingredients into a pan with flour and eggs, add vanilla, and call it a day. But then I found an Ina Garten lemon cake recipe. That started me down a garden path…
No step was difficult and each one led inexorably to the next. My original plan had not included a cider syrup to moisten the cake after baking and a glaze to finish it off. No matter. When we cut into this glazed apple cider loaf cake, I was awed. It was moist, subtly flavored, and not overly sweet. By the end of the first piece, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist. Two of us polished off the entire loaf in record time.
Tips for making Apple Cider Loaf Cake
- Use dried apples, not fresh. The ratio of liquid to solids assumes that the apples are dried. Plus, the dried ones have a concentrated “appley” taste.
- Make sure the butter is room temperature. Then, cream the butter and sugar well. Advice from someone who should know better: take the butter out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature on the counter. Using a microwave to speed up the process, even at a low setting,is a chancy proposition. All too often, it turns the butter into glop or a melted mess. The combination of room temperature butter, creamed with sugar gives the cake its airy texture and helps it to rise. (Eggs for baking should always be at room temperature. If you take them straight from the refrigerator, put the eggs in a bowl of warm water for several minutes. Leave them there until the outside of the eggs feel warm.)
- Follow the directions for alternating dry and wet ingredients – don’t take a short-cut and dump them in all at once.
- Use parchment paper to form a cradle for lifting out the cake from the pan. The overhang on the longer sides of the pan become handles. Use them to lift the cake out of the pan. That way, you don’t turn it upside down and pieces do not stick to the bottom.
- If the top of the cake browns before the inside is fully baked, lightly cover it with foil. That prevents the top from burning as it bakes.
- Add the cider syrup while the cake is still warm. Then, wait until it cools before adding the glaze. The syrup needs warmth to sink into the cake. However, if you add glaze before you fully cool the cake, the glaze will melt. That doesn’t look pretty.