Norway’s answer to American apple pie
Celebrate Norwegian Apple Day (October 17) with this moist and delicious cake
Fall is the season to celebrate Norwegian produce. This time of year, it’s high season for apples, onions, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, parsnips, and rutabaga. With the cool climate, it is only natural that root vegetables and fruits high in acidity (apples) as well as berries thrive the best. Traditions around these foods are near and dear to my heart. I love nothing more than to recreate them in my home in New York; it brings me a little closer to my family at home while I get to enjoy the familiar smells and taste. I always find it fascinating that these two cultures share similar customs as well, albeit in slightly different ways.
After a long summer, we often feel as if fall hits us fast and hard with its gray, dark, and cold days. But the fact is, much like in the U.S., this is one of the most colorful seasons in Norway both when it comes to nature and the variety of produce in season. As the weather gets colder, it feels more and more appropriate to spend days inside by a warm stove and do some cooking and baking together with family and friends. When I saw all of these gorgeous apples at the farmers’ market the other day, I got inspired to bake one of Norway’s most beloved cakes: the apple cake, or “eplekake” as we fondly call it.
Did you know that October 17 is Norwegian Apple Day? Eplekake definitely belongs to fall in Norway. This flavorful cake is juicy, moist, light, and rich all at the same time, with the crisp acid from the apples and the sweetness from brown sugar and cinnamon. Not elaborate to make, this still packs a lot of flavor and every home has their own version.
I’ve made this a dairy and egg free cake, where I replaced the eggs with ground flax seeds mixed with water. I also used vegan butter, though you can also use a good vegetable oil (not olive oil—the flavor is too strong). A nice touch is sprinkles of sesame seeds added to the bottom of the cake pan for texture and flavor, though I omitted it this time.
If you want to make this an extra decadent apple cake you can include some shredded marzipan. It adds tremendous flavor and texture (so moist!)—worth every calorie! I usually buy the ready to use package from Odense, but you can also make your own by combining almond paste with confectioner’s sugar and some sugar water or corn syrup. I highly recommend you try including it; you will be amazed at the results.
This apple cake is so simple and quick to make, but it will look like you spent hours in the kitchen!
Norwegian Eplekake (vegan)
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup plant-based milk (soy, almond, cashew, or coconut)
1/2 cup rapeseed oil
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 tbsps. ground flax seed
6 tbsps. water
1 small Granny Smith apple, chopped
2 large Granny Smith or other baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent from browning)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil or butter a 10-inch (24 cm) spring form pan and set aside.
Combine the flax seed with the water in a small bowl and let it swell for about 5 minutes while you measure out the other ingredients and prepare the apples.
Sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, oil, vanilla extract, and flax seed mixture and combine with the dry ingredients. I use a stand mixer, but you can also do this by hand. Add in the chopped apples in the end.
Pour the batter into the cake pan.
Neatly arrange and stick the apple slices into the batter in a circle until the entire surface is covered. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar. Place the cake in the oven on the lowest or next to lowest rack and bake for about 1 hour or until apples are slightly golden brown (if the top begins to brown too quickly, cover lightly with foil for the last 15 minutes or so).
Serve the cake warm with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream. Serves 10.
Sunny Gandara has over 15 years experience in marketing and PR, both in the music and beverage industry. In 2008 she founded her own company, Fork and Glass, a food and wine event and consulting company, located in the Hudson Valley of New York. She now focuses on education, giving seminars and classes to private and corporate groups. Sunny, a native of Norway, is a professionally trained cook and holds a diploma in Wines & Spirits from the WSET.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 9, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.