This cake was inspired by Phil Schoen, a fellow tifoso (rabid soccer fan) who is a brilliant soccer broadcaster and storyteller for BeIN Sports and his own VoiceGoals, Inc.
He is also one of my favorite human beings on the planet.
I have had the pure joy, pleasure, and privilege of being his Facebook friend for a very long time, since I was his fan during his tenure at GOLTV years ago.
Then on May 4, 2015 – my dad’s earthly birthday – I heard a little voice (from beyond most likely) to check Facebook before I went to bed. I don’t diss this kind of thing, so I did and there I learned that Mr Phil Schoen was in LA for a celebrity golf tournament.
Long story short, I had the pure joy, pleasure, and privilege of having breakfast with him the next morning and we talked for hours as if our souls (+ my dad) had surely set this up. I told him he is the Vin Scully of Soccer to me, and he humbly said that others have told him that.
A story for another day will be how I once made applesauce for Vin Scully.
Some time after that breakfast with Mr Schoen, I had a bowl of apples on my counter begging to be made into something extraordinary.
It was past time to divine a recipe inspired by this man who is such a class act and loves Marcona almonds so, that is this cake.
French Apple Cake with Spanish Topping
Butter and flour for preparing cake pan
3/4 cup unbleached flour
3/4 baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large apples (any combination of Fuji, Pink Lady, Opal, Pippin, etc)
Additional 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp grated nutmeg for tossing apple pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp Amaretto liqueur (rum, brandy, or other liqueur may be used)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cube unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350F and place oven rack directly in center of oven.
Butter and flour an 8- or 9-inch springform pan, place on baking sheet.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices; set aside.
Peel and core apples; cut into small cubes.
Toss with cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl.
In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy with hand mixer.
On low speed, add sugar, liqueur, vanilla.
Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then add half of the melted butter.
Stir in remaining flour mixture, then remaining butter.
Fold in apple cubes, incorporating well into batter.
Transfer batter to prepared cake pan and smooth top with spatula.
Bake for 40-44 minutes, until knife inserted comes out clean.
While cake bakes, prepare whipped topping and almonds.
Let cake cool for at least 11 minutes, then run a knife around edges to loosen cake before removing sides of springform pan.
To serve, cut cake in slices, top with a little of the spiced whipped cream and a sprinkle of the candied almond crumbs.
Prepare whipped topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
Combine all ingredients for whipped topping in large bowl.
Beat with hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
Taste and adjust flavors as desired with more sugar or spices.
Prepare candied almond crumbs:
1/2 cup Marcona (or other fine-quality) almonds, roasted or raw
Freshly grated zest of one orange
1/2 cup raw sugar (looks like light brown crystals)
Combine all almond ingredients in small food processor.
Pulse until almonds become crumb-like. Store remaining crumbs in jar or airtight container in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
Dessert yields about 8 servings.