I don’t know about you, but successful authors are pretty intimidating. They’re celebrities like any other. Maybe not as high-powered as guys like, say, Dustin Hoffman (did I tell you about the time I walked right past him on a movie set while working as an extra? That was fucking scary), but they’re more public figures than most of us. They get reviews in the New York Times. Talk show interviews. News articles. And if you think about it, the author is much more the face of their books than in the past, with social media and everything.
I had this image in my head of Egan as angelic goddess of writing, benevolently descending upon her eager disciples to preach the gospel of literature. Not so. She actually came across as—*gasp*—a real life actual human being! Someone we could relate to! She was just being a little-ol-me, muddling along in life, until she accidentally happened upon her own personal Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and just happened to be wildly successful.
It was a fantastic act. Everyone knew that deep down, she was actually a genius.
But for a moment, I thought hey, I could actually be Jennifer Egan someday! I could write my own Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and end up on bestseller lists for years on end and shower myself in Pulitzers and National Books Awards and what have you. Hell, maybe all it takes is sticking in a PowerPoint chapter to be hailed as a prodigy of contemporary literature!
|HAHAHAHA no. source|
This feeling faded quickly, but the general impression of bestselling authors are actually regular people! Who’d’a thunk it? remained. When she spoke about the pure awfulness of her first drafts and the struggles she faced between revision and publication, it was an epiphany. Sort of. That’s the kind of thing we don’t see behind glossy book covers and NYT reviews.
I don’t know why I wanted to share that. I just did.
In a way, those awful first drafts were a lot like this cake.
A few years ago just a few days ago this Thanksgiving, I set out
to make a fabulous Momofuku Milk Bar-inspired apple pie cake that would knock
the socks off of everyone in attendance and bring my blog all kinds of
cake-induced glory. Not so. That particular cake fell apart on arrival, and as
such, I was forced to shove it in a trifle dish. Again.
So, a couple weeks later, I made the same cake again—except I chilled the cake layers before frosting and didn’t add too much apple pie filling to ensure it wouldn’t fall apart in a big gloppy mess. I would say that was a success?
My only issue came when the coconut oil-based frosting (no more nondairy margarine for me!) started to seize up in contact with the cold cake. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, but the cake’s temperature as it relates to coconut oil is definitely something to consider if you like pretty cakes.
Overall? This variation is a roaring success. The tofu makes it super soft and moist and I’m so sorry for using those adjectives but it is very, very necessary in describing this cake. Tender? Gentle? Yielding to the palate? Blech. I’mma stick with soft and moist for now. And flavorful. Yep, it’s got tons of flavors.
|Cinnamon 'n' apples 'n' shit.|
As I always remind you: don’t be intimidated by the recipe. This cake in particular is very easy to make on separate days, and even if you do find it to be a lot of work I assure you the finished product is well-worth your time.
Here it is.
Momofuku-inspired vegan apple pie cake with cheesecake filling and pie crumb buttercream
Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook
Makes one double-layer 8-inch round cake
95 grams • coconut oil, softened • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons
250 grams • granulated sugar • 1 ¼ cups
60 grams • light brown sugar • ¼ cup
180 grams • silken tofu, blended until smooth • ¾ cup
110 grams • nondairy milk • ½ cup
4 grams • apple cider vinegar • 1 teaspoon
65 grams • canola oil • 1/3 cup
2 grams • vanilla extract • ½ teaspoon
185 grams • cake flour • 1 ½ cups
4 grams • baking powder • 1 teaspoon
4 grams • kosher salt • 1 teaspoon
2 grams • cinnamon • 1 teaspoon
1 gram • allspice • ½ teaspoon
1 gram • nutmeg • ½ teaspoon
0.5 grams • cloves • ¼ teaspoon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch round pans and line with parchment; set aside.
Place margarine, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer; cream on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tofu and blend on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes.
With mixer on low speed, stream in milk, apple cider vinegar, oil, and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for another 5 to 6 minutes, or until the mixture is lightened in color and very, very fluffy. It must be completely homogenous. Be patient with this step.
On very low speed, spoon in cake flour and the other remaining ingredients. Mix for a minute at most, just until the batter is homogenous. Divide between prepared cake pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool for ten minutes before removing from pan; let cool completely before adding other components.
Apple pie cheesecake filling
300 grams • Granny Smith apples • 2 medium
14 grams • coconut oil • 1 tablespoon
150 grams • light brown sugar • 2/3 cup tightly packed
1 gram • cinnamon • ½ teaspoon
1 gram • kosher salt • ¼ teaspoon
140 grams • cashews, soaked for a few hours and drained • 1 cup
2 grams • lemon juice • ½ teaspoon
7 grams • apple cider vinegar • ½ tablespoon
14 grams • coconut oil • 1 tablespoon
60 grams • maple syrup • 3 tablespoons
4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon
Peel apples and chop into small pieces. Add to a medium pot with coconut oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not over-cook apples. Let cool completely.
Place cashews in a food processor and blend until as smooth as possible. Add lemon juice, apple cider veginar, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Fold in cooled apple mixture. I only used about half of the apple pie filling so as to prevent the cheesecake part from becoming too gooey. Save the other half for topping each slice as you serve them.
240 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 ½ cups
18 grams • granulated sugar • 2 tablespoons
3 grams • kosher salt • ¾ teaspoon
115 grams • coconut oil, melted • ½ cup
20 grams • water • 1 ½ tablespoons
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add melted coconut oil and water and mix on low speed until the mixture starts to cluster together.
Place clusters on baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown but still slightly moist. Let cool completely before using.
Pie crumb frosting
110 grams • nondairy milk • ½ cup
2 grams • kosher salt • ½ teaspoon
½ recipe pie crumb
40 grams • coconut oil, softened • 3 tablespoons
40 grams • powdered sugar • ¼ cup
You should have prepared pie crumb as described above. Set aside half of the crumb for the frosting.
Combine crumbs, milk, and kosher salt in a blender until smooth. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together coconut oil and powdered sugar until fluffy; then stream in pie crumb mixture and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Yay, you’re almost done.
1 recipe spiced cake
1 recipe apple pie cheesecake filling
1 recipe pie crumb frosting
Remaining pie crumb (not used in frosting)
Place one layer of the cake base on a cutting board or other cake-assembly surface. Shmear that apple pie cheesecake in an even layer over the cake. Place other layer on top. Frost the whole business with pie crumb frosting. Sprinkle pie crumb on top however you wish. Boom—apple pie cake. Wasn’t that easy?
|I tried really hard to get the frosting smooth. I really did.|
You’ll notice that, hey hey hey, this cake is free of artificial substitutes, using coconut oil instead of margarine and a nice cashew cheesecake instead of pseudo-cream cheese. The result is a very wholesome-tasting cake, even though it is very far from wholesome, but you can convince yourself of anything when you have a sweet tooth as resilient as mine.
Before we leave, here are some other Momofuku-inspired recipes I’ve made on this here blog.
Maple gingerbread layer cake with cheesecake filling and spiced crumb. As a gingerbread lover, I can confirm that this cake is incredible.
Carrot layer cake. One of the top posts on How to Philosophize with Cake, and for good reason.
Vegan chocolate syrup. This stuff is, like, a household staple.
Confetti cookies. Instant classic right here.