I know what you are thinking. Where is the cake and what is that red sauce? In most other countries, this would be called a trifle or a parfait, but in Denmark we call this an old-fashioned apple cake. I have the fondest memories leaning over a huge bowl filled with Gammeldags æblekage at my grandmother’s kitchen table. It was smooth apple sauce (our version is red here) topped with crushed cookie crumbles and whipped cream and it was my favorite dessert in the world. Me and my twin brother spent every other weekend and school holiday at my grandmother’s house. She was the warmest and calmest person we knew, always with a smile on her face. My memories of her are fading but whenever I think of her I can smell the cigarillos she loved to smoke and the hair spray she always wore. And I remember her huge black & white marble coffee table that we often sat around and I remember her warm hugs. She had a big house and rented out one room in the basement, one on the top floor and one in the garden to various tenants. On weekends she baked for everyone in the house. Large batches of spiced pound cake, chocolate cake or her famous (in my world) old-fashioned apple cake. I never thought of it back then but – damn! – she must have been the best landlord. When my twin brother and I were 10 years old she sadly passed away, two days after Christmas, and she left a big hole of emptiness in me. I have been thinking about her so much lately as I have been making this recipe for our kids and telling them stories about her. So this cake is for you grandma. /Luise
Our version actually has quite a few own quirks compared to my grandmother’s. We ditched the sugar in the apple sauce (because it’s really not needed if you use sweet apples), replaced cookie crumble with a simple nut and date crumble and used whipped coconut cream (nr heavy cream) on top to make it vegan. But it still tastes a lot like the ones in her house. And the texture is ace! It’s sweet and tangy and soft and rich and crunchy. And it’s actually pretty easy to make as well. 1) Cook apple sauce (or use readymade). 2) Chop toasted nuts and mix with sticky dates. 3) Whip cream. 4) Layer. 5) Dive in.
While testing the first version of the recipe, David’s concern was that it didn’t look pretty enough. I peeled the apples and didn’t blend the sauce so it came together rather yellow/brownish. But he figured out that by using the most deep red apples we could find, kept the peel on, cooked on low heat and then blended the sauce, it got a beautiful pink/red color. I’ve never seen an apple sauce looking radiant like that before.
Make sure to cook a double batch of the sauce. It’s so good on top of yogurt and porridge bowls.
We are not experts on whipped coconut cream. We have failed at making it just as many times as we have succeeded. Different brands behave differently and some simply don’t work at all. Key is keeping it chilled to get the cream to separate from the liquid and the chilling is also essential when whipping. Usually, the cream solidifies so you scoop it out with a spoon, but when making this video we used a brand that separated without solidifying so we could simply pour the cream into the bowl while the rest of the liquid stayed at the bottom of the can. If you want to learn more about Whipped Coconut Cream (and which US brands that work best), go read Ashlae’s post on Coconut Whipped Cream.
I should also mention that if you are not vegan or too fond of coconut cream, regular whipped cream is just as delicious.
Grandma’s Danish Apple Cake
If you cant find red apples like ours, you can add a little pomegranate juice or grated beetroot to the apple sauce while mixing to make it more red.
1 kg / 2 lb red apples
250 ml / 1 cup water
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp ground vanilla powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or cardamom)
1 tbsp lemon juice
180 g / 1 cup almonds
100 g / 1 cup walnuts
whipped coconut cream (or regular cream)
Rinse the apples and chop them in bite size pieces, discarding the core. Place in a large sauce pan along with water, fresh ginger, vanilla powder and cinnamon. Let simmer on low heat for approx 20 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, place the nuts on a tray and roast at 150°C / 300°F for approx 15 minutes. Remove the stone from the dates and use a knife to chop them or fork to mash them. Chop the nuts medium fine, reserve a handful a nuts for topping and mix the rest with the date paste into a crumble. Set aside. When the apples are done, use a hand (immersion) blender to mix into a smooth apple sauce. Stir lemon juice into the sauce, scoop into a container and leave to cool.
Scoop out the solid cream from 1 can of chilled coconut milk. Use a hand mixer to whip the coconut cream until it’s fluffy and forms soft peaks. If it feels too runny, place the bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and then try whipping again. If you like, you can fold in some maple syrup or vanilla into the cream after it is whipped. If using regular cream, simply whip it until soft peaks form.
Place apple sauce as a bottom layer in 4 glasses or jars (or use 1 big bowl). Top with nut and date crumble and then scoop over whipped cream. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Enjoy!
They sit quite well in the fridge so they can be prepared a few hours ahead.
PS! Yesterday also happened to be Noah’s first birthday! Happy day little man! David usually post a little letter to the kids here on their first birthday but he’s been a little busy lately but promises that he will write it in a later post.