today’s taste: bavarian apple torte
Remember when we said that the pumpkin pop-tarts would be the last dessert we made in a shared kitchen? Well, we lied. In true Morgan and Emily fashion, we spent the last night before Morgan’s flight to California baking. The movers had hauled away Morgan’s belongings earlier that day (including no less than five boxes of cookware), so we were feeling a little sentimental about the empty kitchen cabinets. Good news, though, friends: you can still make a tasty apple torte (and likely many other treats) with just one set of cookware. (But it’s still the loneliest number.)
One of the great things about southern California (according to southern Californians) is the weather. It is sunny and 75 degrees twelve months a year. Now, in DC, it is sunny and 75 degrees twelve days a year. The other 353 are usually too hot or too cold to make being outside a pleasant activity. And yet, the impending chill – and associated power outages and frozen staircases – became more attractive with every sweater, scarf, and jacket Morgan buried in the bottom of her suitcase. We decided then that even though California may not recognize the change in season, we still would (with food); if we’re being honest with ourselves, pumpkin tastes pretty good no matter the temperature outside.
But we were also feeling a little guilty about playing favorites with pumpkin in our last post. Before we knew it, there were a bag full of apples and a pair of cream cheese blocks sitting on the counter. The Bavarian apple torte is richer than an apple pie and easier than a cheesecake – and we are always game to have our cake and eat it too. Plus, it’s a staple in the Wiley household. Few occasions warrant comfort food more than a transcontinental move!
As we mentioned, this torte is pretty simple – in fact, except for apples and cream cheese, you may already have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Buying the cream cheese is about as straightforward as it gets, but spend an extra minute or two in the apple aisle. Because the apples are layered on top of the torte – rather than baked into the center – it’s important to choose apples that are firm enough to keep their shape. And, as with all apple desserts, you will want apples with a strong enough flavor to survive the oven. We love the tartness of Granny Smith, but there are a number of good options: Pink Lady and Cortland if you prefer sour, and Honeycrisp and Crispin if you like sweet.
Regardless of the type you select, they will look beautiful piled high on the torte. However, you must resist the cinnamon-y temptation to cut a slice immediately after removing the pan from the oven. The cream cheese filling will need to cool to room temperature and then chill in the fridge for at least an hour – otherwise, you may struggle to wrestle a clean piece out of the pan. Even after the torte has chilled, cutting will not be a geometrically precise process. But if you do the serving and wind up with a few more apples than your neighbor – what’s wrong with a happy accident?
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ packages cream cheese (12 ounces), softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 3 apples)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Using fingers, combine all crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan.
- In another bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Pour over crust.
- Stir together topping ingredients until combined. Arrange over filling.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until the center is set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then chill in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Cut into wedges with a serrated knife.