The fall is the season to celebrate all the amazing Norwegian produce. This time of year, it’s high season for apples, onions, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga in Norway. 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, as it brings me just a little closer to my family at home while I get to enjoy the familiar smells in the kitchen and taste around the table. I always find it fascinating that these two cultures share similar customs as well, albeit in slightly different ways.
For instance, Thanksgiving is not just an American tradition. Although Americans celebrate it in November, since 1889, the Norwegian Church has celebrated Thanksgiving in conjunction with the harvest around September or October. It is customary to bring in corn husks, fruits, vegetables and flowers to the church during service being held at the end of September.
After a long summer, we often feel as if fall hits us fast and hard with its grey, darker 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 farmer 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 17th is Norwegian Apple Day? Eplekake definitely belongs to fall in Norway. This flavorful cake is juicy, moist, light and buttery all at the same time, with the crisp acid from the apples and the sweetness from brown sugar and the apricot jam the sliced apples are brushed with. Not elaborate to make at all, but sure packs a lot of flavor and every home has their own version.
Here are my sliced apples ready to be placed on top of the batter (sprinkle them with a little lemon juice to avoid them from turning brown):
I’ve made it a dairy and egg free cake, where I replaced the eggs with ground flax seeds mixed with water, and I used vegan butter, although you can also use a good vegetable oil (not olive oil as the flavor is too strong). A nice touch is the sprinkles of sesame seeds at the bottom of the cake pan for added texture and flavor.
This is also an extra decadent apple cake as I add in some shredded marzipan. It really 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.
Here is what the ground flax seeds look like once they’ve swelled up in water. I use 1 tbsp of flax seeds with 3 tbsp of water for every egg. Works fantastic as a binder – just like eggs!
So simple and quick to make, but will look like you spent hours in the kitchen!
I hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I did – apples are abundant right now – this is a fun and delicious way to utilize this seasonal fruit!
NORWEGIAN EPLEKAKE WITH MARZIPAN
1 tbs vegan butter or butter of your choice, melted
1 tbsp sesame seeds
For the batter:
200 grams/7 oz vegan butter, melted and cooled off
150 grams/5 1/4 oz marzipan, roughly grated on a box grater
4 tbsp flax seeds combined with 3/4 cups of room temp water
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used spelt flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup organic apricot jam
1 tbsp water
50 grams or about 3 tbsp pine nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
Butter a 10-inch (24 cm) cake pan and sprinkle with the sesame seeds 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, baking powder and vanilla sugar in a small bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the apricot jam with the water and whisk until smooth, turn off and set aside.
Whisk the flax seed mixture with the brown sugar until well combined. Add in the melted butter and the grated marzipan (and vanilla extract if using). Add in the flour mixture and mix until all the flour is integrated. 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. Brush the apple slices with the prepared apricot jam. If using pine nuts, sprinkle those on top (I omitted these). Place the cake in the oven on the lowest or second to lowest rack and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Serve the cake warm with vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream or whipped coconut cream. Yum!!
Here is my cake right out of the oven – ready to be devoured!!