grandmothers of sils’ apple-yogurt cake

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Grandmothers of Sils’ Apple and Yogurt Cake
Adapted from The New Spanish Table

This is, in my mind, a true coffee cake, not overly sweet and best unadorned. It keeps exceptionally well, and is, if possible, more moist on day three than day one.

Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup lemon yogurt*
1/4 cup anise liqueur, such as Sambuca
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light olive oil
3 cups finely diced or shredded peeled and cored baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Jonagold, or a combination
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting the cake
Creme fraiche, for serving (optional)

1. Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour and 9-inch springform pan.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl. Place the eggs and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy and pale yellow, about 1 minute. Beat in the yogurt and liqueur until completely smooth. Working in batches, beat in the sifted flour, alternating it with the olive oil. Gently but thoroughly fold in the apples.

3. Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan, tap it on a counter to level the batter, then smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake the cake on the center rack until the top is golden, a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean**, and the cake springs back when you touch it, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the cake cool on a rack.

4. Run a thin knife around the side of the cake to loosen it. Remove the side and the bottom of the pan, then place the cake on a cake platter. (The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead.) Wrap it loosely in plastic until ready to use. Serve the cake sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, accompanied by creme fraiche, if desired.

* For serious! I can’t tell you how many lemon yogurts I picked up at my totally yuppie gourmet grocery store before finding a single one with real, actual lemon in it and not artificial flavoring. I’m not naming names, but there were brands that I really expected better from. I finally landed on Stoneybrook Farms low-fat with lemon puree on the bottom. Why I went through this trouble when I could have just, uh, squeeze lemon juice into a plain yogurt, I don’t know. But just to warn that if you’re going through the effort of making a cake from scratch, you might want to make sure your lemon yogurt is the real deal.

** For some reason, this never happened for me. Well beyond the baking time (though my oven runs a little cool) the toothpick was still coming out with some damp crumbs attached while the top was golden and springy, so I took it out. It was cooked just fine in the center, so if this happens to you, don’t worry.

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