A few weeks ago my mother called and said, "Oh I made that cake from your blog. You know, the apple one." I blinked rapidly. "Which apple cake?" "You know, the one with a meringue on top." A hazy memory blurred in and out and then into focus. "OK, I think I remember..." "Well, it was delicious. It was amazing."
In the course of my day I read dozens and dozens of recipes. They flick by, one delicious thing after another, and some of them get tossed up here as good ideas or links. But not many make it into my own kitchen; there are just so many things to cook! It took this call from my mother to bring this cake into reality in my own kitchen, and oh am I glad.
She went on about the unusual texure, the way the cake was sweet (but not too sweet) and hearty with apples. Then the meringue layer on top (so unusual, for a cake!) was crisp and airy, but where the two layers met it turned to a jellied pudding, sweet and moist. I was hooked. My mouth was watering, in fact And I clearly remembered this recipe too, a featured recipe at Food52, where the photo of a plain brown cake with a cracked brown sugar meringue looked both simple and intriguing. I liked the looks of it so much it ended up here, which is where my mother found it.
And then I found it again, and baked it. And oh boy, this is a keeper. It's an unusual recipe, with a simple chunky apple cake as the bottom layer, and that crackly brown meringue on top.
The first time I made it (the instance seen in the photos here) I doubled the recipe for a dinner party, and I made the cake in a full 13x9-inch pan. However, I made the minor mistake of also doubling the meringue, when I really only needed to increase it by 50% or maybe not at all.
So the meringue floated up over the top of the cake, at least as deep as the cake itself, all pocked with air bubbles and crisp cracks. It looked slightly monstrous, but also beautiful, in a completely rustic way.
And the taste, oh it was that good. Not-too-sweet cake below, with a darkly sweet and sticky meringue, and that gooey pudding-ish bit where they meet. My guests groaned. I ate it for breakfast. It was gone very, very quickly. It's not the prettiest cake in the box, but it is utterly moreish.
All that to say, listen to your mother when she recommends a recipe, and make this cake.
• Get the recipe: An Old-Fashioned Apple Spice Cake at Food52
Have you tried this yet? Or have you ever made other cakes that have a meringue on top?
(Images: Faith Durand)