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 (although our version is modernized). I have the fondest memories leaning over a huge bowl of Gammeldags æblekage at my grandmother’s kitchen table. It’s made of smooth apple sauce (our version is red) 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 smiling. My memories 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 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 and this video is for you grandma. /Luise
We have actually changed quite a few things from my grandmother’s recipe. 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 on top to make it vegan. But it still tastes a lot like the ones she made. And the texture is ace! It’s sweet and tangy and soft and rich and crunchy. And it’s 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 main concern was that it didn’t look pretty enough (typically him). I peeled the apples and didn’t blend the sauce so it did look 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 crazy good on top of yogurt and porridge bowls.
We are definitely not experts on whipped coconut cream. We have failed at making it numerous times as 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 the video above, 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.
Red Apple Sauce
1 kg / 2 lb red apples (use local produce if available)
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
Date & Nut Crumble
180 g / 1 cup almonds
100 g / 1 cup walnuts
Whipped Coconut Cream (or regular cream)
1 can coconut milk, placed in the fridge for a few hours (or coconut cream or heavy 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 a 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, leave to cool or scoop into a large jar and place in the fridge.
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 it sweetened, 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 bottom layer in 4 glasses or jars (or use 1 big glass bowl). Top evenly 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.
Oh, one more thing! The Dutch edition of Green Kitchen At Home has been nominated for Cookbook of the Year in Holland. There are two awards, one is decided by a jury and the other is people’s choice. We’d be super happy if our Dutch readers (or anyone) would like to vote for us. It only takes 30 seconds. Here is the link!