As far as recipes go, Marian Burros' Plum Torte is pretty darn famous, having appeared in the New York Time something like 15 times. Growing up, however, I thought of it as my mom's famous plum torte. A big fan of Elegant But Easy (by Marian Burros and Lois Levine), my mom made this torte often and it was requested even more often.
So imagine my surprise, as an adult, when I discovered that other people knew about my mom's plum torte! Although, if you ask me, not enough people know about Elegant But Easy! I myself cook from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, the second edition that came out in the `90's. As a fickle owner of many cookbooks, I am quite loyal to this one, and turn to it when I need to bring along a dish to a potluck or am entertaining. The dessert chapters, in particular, have never let me down. There is a Chocolate Angel Food Cake recipe in there that is a favorite of mine! My only complaint about this book is that the brownie recipe is all gussied up, not the simple Barbara's Brownie recipe in the original book. That was our classic family brownie recipe growing up, and my sister even made it to a state fair on that recipe! I have to confess that I am keeping an eye out for an old copy of the original book, even though it is pretty out of date.
This Apple Cranberry Torte recipe appears in the new edition of the book, alongside the original plum torte. And, for those of us who like to keep things healthy, there is even a healthier version. I've yet to try that one, but I will let you know if I do soon! I have a full basket of apple from apple picking on the kitchen table, so you never know.
This torte, like the original plum torte, is easy peasy. And moist and delicious and very impressive when you arrive to a party with it in hand. Really, can you ask for anything more?
Apple Cranberry Torte
from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, by Marian Burros and Lois Levine
serves at least 8
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 medium-large tart, firm apples
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2-3 Tbsp sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 cup currant jelly or apricot jam
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan.
2. Bring 1 and 1/2 cups water to a simmer and then remove from the heat. Add the dried cranberries and soak for about 15-20 minutes, until the berries become plump. Drain well. Meanwhile, peel and core the apples. Cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges. Squeeze the lemon juice from the 1/2 lemon over the apples so that they do not brown. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and the sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the flour, eggs, and baking powder. Stir until well-combined. Stir in the cranberries, reserving a small handful to sprinkle on top.
4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
5. Starting from the outside, place the apple wedges in concentric circles, pointed edges facing towards the center.
6. Combine the 2-3 Tbsp sugar with 1-2 tsp cinnamon (to taste). Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture liberally over the apple wedges. Toss the remaining cranberries over the top.
7. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake about 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown, the apples are tender (but not mushy), and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry.
8. This cake refrigerates and freezes well when carefully wrapped.
9. Before serving, melt the jelly over the stove top. Use a pasty brush to glaze the cake with the melted jelly.