Apple and Honey Loaf Topped with Vanilla Meringue
A dense spiced loaf cake with chunks of apples, a hint of honey and topped with a crunchy vanilla meringue.
Tea and a spiced loaf cake anyone? When I stumbled across this Bon Appetit recipe it was the first time I had ever seen meringue used on a loaf cake before. The original is for a sweet potato cake, but with the Jewish holidays around the corner/apple season I thought it would be fun to make it with apples and honey instead!
A Sweet New Year
For the Jewish New Year it is customary to eat apples and honey to give you a sweet and joyous new year! Typically it involves eating sliced apples dipped in honey. This loaf has chunks of apples through out the cake and is sweetened with honey to add depth in flavor.
Recipe Change Up
This recipe only varies slightly from the original with only switches to the sugar content and replacement of pureed sweet potato with homemade apple sauce. This recipe was really easy to follow and quick to throw together! You can cut down on the prep time by using store bought apple sauce, but I liked the homemade apple sauce because it allowed you to control the amount of apple pieces in the batter. You can add in additional pieces of apple, but this could effect your bake times.
Crunchy Meringue Topping
If you haven't made meringue before, don't even sweat it. The double boiler method makes it easy to not mess this up! A very important tip for making meringue is to make sure your tools are clean and free of any fats. If there is any left over oil from a previous bake it can prevent your egg whites from reaching a stiff peak. Also, you don't need a thermometer to measure the temperature of the eggs whites while you are whipping them on the double boiler. To test if your egg whites are ready for the stand mixer, dip a finger into the mixture and rub it together between your fingers. If it still feels grainy from the sugar, it's not ready yet. Once it feels smooth you can remove it from the heat 👍🏻
Delicious Pay Off
Not to keep talking about the meringue, but honestly it was so worth it. And not just to lick the spatula at the end. I topped with ¼ of the mixture to begin with and made sure to swirl it really well into the top of the loaf batter. Once baked it created this chewy layer that was so satisfying to bite into. By only mixing in a portion of the meringue, you don't deflate your egg whites, which allows you the rest to pile high on top. Make sure to do lots of swoops and swirls for an added textured look :)
A Riff on Bon Appetite's Tea Cake
Below is the information to adjust for an apple and honey version:
Homemade Apple Sauce
Peel and chop two medium granny smith apples (or any tart baking apple). Apple pieces should be on the smaller side, about half an inch.
In a small pot on the stove set to medium-high heat, add the apples, 2 Tbsps. of honey and 2 Tbsps of water. Stir occasionally until the apples are soft and mushy. Remove from heat and let cool briefly before adding to your recipe.
*If the apples did not cook down enough for your size preference, use a spoon and press the pieces against the pot to break smaller or use an immersion blender for desired consistency.
Aside from swapping out the sweet potato puree for apple sauce, I also made adjustments to the sugar in the batter. To get a hint of honey into the loaf, replace ⅓ Cup of sugar with ⅓ Cup of honey.