Baking with mixed grains and different types of flours is appealing because of the endless flavor and texture possibilities. I’ve fiddled with whole wheat flour and wheat germ in chocolate chip cookies, and I’ve taken cues from a whole grain bread recipe and applied them to making bagels. Beyond that, I need help to know which types of flour work best together and in what proportion to one another they should be used. I finally picked up Good to the Grain which is teaching me those things. In the book, twelve different flours are covered with one chapter highlighting each, but typically the recipes involve a mix of multiple grains. There’s always an explanation for why each flour was included and what it brings to the recipe. For instance, with this coffee cake, graham flour, all-purpose flour, and whole grain pastry flour are used. Graham flour is whole wheat flour that has been coarsely ground, and it has a nutty, and for lack of a better word, wheaty taste. You could use whole wheat flour in its place, but if you can find graham flour, the flavor is a little more pronounced. The all-purpose flour was used to lighten the graham flour, and the whole grain pastry flour gave the cake tenderness. I have a bin where I keep my growing collection of flours, and I have a feeling with this book around, the whole collection will get regular use.
This cake started with the apples which were cored and chopped, and as usual, I didn’t peel them. The apple chunks were added to a hot skillet with melted butter and cinnamon, and they were cooked until caramelized. I actually didn’t cook the apples down to complete tenderness because I prefer for the pieces to retain a little texture. Next, the dry ingredients for the batter were sifted together, and those included all-purpose flour, graham flour, whole-grain pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, a tablespoon of cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt. In a separate bowl, some melted butter, buttermilk, plain yogurt, applesauce, and an egg were whisked together and then incorporated into the dry ingredients. The batter was placed in a prepped nine inch cake pan, and the caramelized apples were spread on top before it baked for about 45 minutes.
There were three important things going on with the flavor of this coffee cake, and the first was the graham flour tasting deliciously of toasted wheat. Also, the cinnamon spiced the cake nicely, and there were the fresh, tart, and sweet flavors of the caramelized apples. Now, about those three different flours working together, as promised, they produced a very tender, light crumb. I want to keep making this cake throughout the year and try it with different fruits as they come into season. I’m already imagining it with peaches.