This is a nice recipe for those occasions when you just want cake.  You can serve it with or without icing.  It is moist and very flavorful on its own or with the icing.  I like cutting the apples into a small dice for this cake.  The firmer the apple, the better they will retain their shape and provide moisture to the cake. But cut it any way you like.  And while I don’t normally peel my apples when baking with them, I thought I would this time.  The pieces of apple looked like they were floating in the sliced cake.

The icing for this cake may just become my new favorite.  So easy to come together, I made it while the cake was baking.  So few steps and such great flavor!  It has sour cream and honey to complete the taste and not make it too sweet.  But really any type of icing will do.  I was thinking back to some recipes done earlier –Persian Love Cake (you can find this recipe on my blog), that I thought would also go well with this cake.  It used a rosewater scented buttercream icing.   Also a delicious flavor, but use the rosewater sparingly because as gentle as the name may sound, it can and will overpower and kill any dish you make where you have used too much.  Use one drop at a time and taste after each addition.  Remember, the person that wrote the recipe isn’t eating it – you are, so always add flavorings to suit your taste (both cooking and baking).

The recipe looks long, but takes no time to come together.  My instructions seem like a lot, but it’s only because I’m providing you with running commentary i.e. as it’s happening to me.  This new style of icing – naked cakes, really suits me well, as I’ve been told I make great cakes, but really, really suck at decorating them.  If you decide not to ice the cake, spread a layer of apple jam or jelly in between the two cakes, slice and serve.  Delicious with tea or coffee, a glass of pinot grigio and great company (family and friends of course, or just for you)!   As always – enjoy!

For the apple cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (do I have to say “good quality”?!)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) buttermilk (store bought or make your own – ½ cup full fat milk with ½ tbsp. vinegar, let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes – ps there are buttermilk recipes on my blog)
1 3/4 cups (280 grams) finely diced peeled apples, such as Granny Smith or Gala

For the honey sour cream buttercream:
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) large egg whites
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (160 milliliters) sour cream
2 tbsp. Manukah honey or orange blossom

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350f
Grease and flour 2 x 8” or 9” round pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and spray and flour it as well – set aside
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom – set aside
Peel the apples and do a fine dice with them – 1/8th inch or ¼” – I think this is a nice size
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed for 2 minutes – this will not cream but just mix and combine – it will look like you would expect an oil and sugar mix to look like
Turn the mixer to low and add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time – remember to stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl after each addition – the mixture will come together and start to look more like a batter
Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture – mix until all the flour has been combined – using a spatula, scrape the bowl as one final stir – add the diced apples and stir again to incorporate
Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean
Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans

Make the honey sour cream buttercream:
Create a double boiler by putting a pot with one inch of water on the stove – the mouth of the pot should be large enough to hold the mixer bowl in the next step but not so the bottom of the bowl touches the water
Using the bowl of a stand mixer or with a bowl and a hand mixer – place the egg whites and sugar and whisk together by hand to combine
Put this bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk to heat the egg mixture until it registers 160f
Once hot, carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer or remove the bowl from the pot and whisk for 8 – 10 minutes on high until it holds medium peaks until
Touch the outside of the bowl, it shouldn’t have any warmth to it – if it is warm you will create a delicious buttercream soup – no saving this mess, so beat until cool
If you are using a stand mixer, switch to the paddle attachment and with the mixer on low, add the soft butter by tablespoons until it is all gone, then add the vanilla
The final product should be a silky smooth buttercream – about 3 – 5 minutes more
Add the sour cream, honey, and cardamom and honey to the mixer and mix until combined
At this stage, you can either cut each cake layer in two, spread frosting between each layer and between the cakes – spread a little frosting on the outside to give a smooth finished look to this “naked” cake.  I spread the frosting only between the two cakes, decided not to slice this time.  I also topped my with a simple blueberry compote (2 cups blueberries, ½ cup brown sugar, pinch of salt, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, pinch of dried rosemary – low cooking for 10 minutes)
Refrigerate but always bring to room temperature before serving
As always – enjoy!