Norsk eplekake, a beloved traditional treat

An apple cake for the teacher

Buttery glazed apple slices sit atop a deliciously moist cardamom cake.

KRISTI BISSELL
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American

As autumn approaches and our thoughts turn to apples, this Norwegian Apple Cake (Norsk Eplekake) deserves a place in your baking repertoire. There is something so homey and cozy about apple desserts, cakes in particular.

This simple apple cake is no exception: a deliciously moist cardamom cake topped with cinnamon-y caramelized apples cooked in butter and sugar. It’s the perfect accompaniment to your afternoon cup of coffee, particularly when apples are in season.

This recipe works because: 

1. The cake is moist and tender but also sturdy enough to support the apples on top.

2. The apples are cooked in cinnamon, sugar, and butter on the stovetop before they go on top of the cake. This ensures perfectly tender, caramelized apples with every bite.

3. The leftover syrup from cooking the apples is used as a base for a quick glaze to brush on the apples after the cake is baked. This gives the apples a beautiful sheen and an extra burst of flavor.

A 9-inch springform pan works best for baking this recipe. A springform pan is simply a high-sided cake pan that has a removable collar which serves as the sides of the pan.

Once the collar is unlatched, the sides lift easily from the bottom of the pan. This is a very nice feature for a cake with a topping like this one because it’s easy to remove the sides of the pan without disturbing the lovely apple top.

If you choose to use a regular 9 inch cake pan instead, simply leave it in the pan for serving.

A few expert tips for ensuring the best Norwegian Apple Cake every time:

1. Be sure to use Granny Smith apples or another sturdy variety that will hold its shape when cooked. Because the apples caramelize on the stove before adding them to the top of the cake, we need an apple that can withstand heat without falling apart.

2. Don’t overmix the batter once you add the flour. Vigorously mixing a cake batter after the flour is added activates the gluten and can cause your cake to be tough in texture. Mix so that the flour is just incorporated, no more.

3. Create your circles of apples so that the slices just touch one another rather than overlap. This should give you just the right amount of apples to fill the space of the cake with two circles of slices.

4. Save the smaller apple slices for the center circle and leave the very center of the cake empty.

5. Don’t skip the step of making the quick syrup and brushing the top of the cake after it has baked. This step really takes this cake from good to great and gives it a gorgeous shine at the end.

Make the most of fall this year by baking this easy and delicious Norwegian Apple Cake. It comes together in no time and is sure to please all of the apple lovers in your life!

Eplekake is the perfect accompaniment for your afternoon cup of coffee.

Norwegian Apple Cake (Norsk Eplekake)
Makes one 9-inch cake
By Kristi Bissell

INGREDIENTS for the apple topping:
3 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch thick wedges (about 1 pound)
2 tbsps. unsalted butter
3 tbsps. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

INGREDIENTS for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine salt
½ tsp. ground cardamom
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
6 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Make the apple topping:  Heat butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add apples and saute until they are lightly caramelized, about 5–8 minutes. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and apples are evenly coated, about 1 more minute. Remove apples from the heat and set aside.

2. Make the cake: Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk sugars and eggs together in a large bowl until fully combined. Slowly add melted butter to sugar and egg mixture and continue whisking until uniform in texture. Add sour cream and vanilla and whisk until fully combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter just comes together.

3. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and even out the top with a small offset spatula. Arrange apples over the top of the batter in two concentric circles. The apples should just touch each other but not overlap. Reserve the butter and sugar mixture that remains in the skillet. Transfer cake to the oven and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached, about 40-50 minutes.

4. Add a couple of teaspoons of water to the skillet along with the reserved butter and sugar mixture left over from making the apple topping. Cook over medium heat until warm and syrupy in texture, about 1-2 minutes. Brush syrup over the top of the cake, particularly the apples. Cool cake for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack and serve.

This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog, www.true-north-kitchen.com.

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