The slow cooker is remarkably versatile. Not only can you make soups and stews, but you can also use your slow cooker to bake cakes, steam tamales, and transform your countertop into a bain marie. Once you learn what your slow cooker can do, it will certainly make your life easier.
This traditional apple cake gets drizzled with a spiced coffee syrup after cooking. It’s an amazingly adaptable cake; you can make it with pears, peaches, pineapple, ripe persimmons, or quince as well.
- To prepare the insert, use half of the shortening to grease the bottom, corners, and halfway up the sides. Line the insert with an 18-inch piece of aluminum foil, smoothing it carefully into the corners and against the sides.
- Grease the foil with the remaining shortening, using most of the shortening on the corners and sides.
- Smear 3 tablespoons of the softened butter in a layer across the bottom of the insert. Scatter the walnuts over the butter.
- Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices. Arrange the sliced apples in overlapping slices on top of the butter. Pour the lemon juice and water over the apples. Sprinkle the apples lightly with 2 tablespoons of the piloncillo sugar.
- In a mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat the remaining 6 tablespoons of the butter until creamy. Add the granulated sugar a little at a time, beating after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and beat until smooth.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two parts, stirring to combine after each addition. Fold in the cheese.
- Spoon the batter evenly over the apples and carefully spread into an even layer. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the piloncillo over the top of the batter.
- Set the insert in the cooker and turn on high. Lay a clean kitchen towel tightly across the top of the cooker and hold snugly in place with the lid. This will prevent excess moisture from dripping into the cake as it cooks. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the cake is firm.
- When the cake is almost done cooking, make the coffee syrup. In a bowl, stir together the coffee, the remaining 3 tablespoons piloncillo, the cinnamon stick, and clove. Set aside.
- When the cake is done, uncover and let cool for 10 minutes. Grabbing the ends of the foil, carefully lift the cake out of the cooker. Set a serving plate upside down over the cake. Slide your hand under the cake, hold the plate with the other hand, and flip the cake upside down, so the apples are on top. Spoon the coffee syrup over and around the cake. Serve warm or cold and topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if you like.
Exclusive from “The Mexican Slow Cooker: Recipes for Mole, Enchiladas, Carnitas, Chile Verde Pork, and More Favorites,” copyright © 2012 by Deborah Schneider. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photograph copyright © 2012 by Maren Caruso.