John's Lowcountry Cooking: Recipes and Ruminations from Charleston
and the Carolina Coastal Plain
1-3/4 cups nut mix (see note)
2 large apples, peeled
4 large eggs, at room temperature (see note)
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1-3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
16 (perfect, if possible) pecan halves
2/3 cup cream
two 9-inch cake pans by lightly greasing them, lining them with
wax paper or parchment, greasing the paper and lightly dusting with
the oven to 375°F and put a pan of water in the bottom of the
grind the nuts in a nut grinder, blender or food processor, proceeding
in small batches. (Blending too long will render the nuts oily.)
finely chop the apples with a knife in a series of quick bursts
in a food processor. You should have 1-3/4 cups.
a warmed electric mixer bowl (see note), beat the eggs and egg yolk
on high speed until doubled in volume. It may take 10 minutes or
more. Slowly add the sugar while beating and continue beating until
the volume is tripled. The eggs should be very thick and light in
color. Don't be afraid of over-beating.
the flour over the egg mixture. Sprinkle the ground nuts over all,
followed by the apples. With a large spatula, fold the mixture together
rapidly but gently, being certain to bring all the elements from
the bottom of the bowl up into the mixture.
the batter between the two cake pans and bake in the middle of the
oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and
the sides have begun to pull away. Do not push on the meringue-like
top, or it may cave in.
on a rack in a draft-free place and let cool completely.
toast the pecan halves while the cakes are in the oven. While the
pecans are hot, quickly dip them in water and then roll them in
sugar until they are lightly coated. Let them dry on a rack.
cakes must be perfectly cool or the heat will melt the cream. Invert
the pans to remove the cakes, discarding the paper liners and turn
the cakes back over again so that the crusty top surface is in its
original position. Place the cake on a serving platter.
the cream until stiff and pipe 8 rosettes or place 8 dollops of
the cream evenly around each cake. Garnish each bit of cream with
a sugared pecan and serve immediately or chilled. (To be especially
authentic, Hoppin' John notes that the cake may be served to interested
adults with a shot glass of bourbon neat.)
To prepare nut mix, mix 2 pounds shelled pecans, English walnuts
and black walnuts in whatever combination, but with no more than
1/3 pound of the black. (You may also choose your own selection
of nuts; Hoppin' John's favorite combination is 1 pound pecans,
2/3 pound walnuts and 1/3 pound black walnuts.) He notes that if
you can't find black walnuts in a nearby major supermarket or natural
foods store and want to include them in your mix, Funsten brand
canned black walnuts are available through the Tracy-Luckey Co.,
Inc., 110-140 North Hicks St., Harlem, GA 30814 (706-556-6216).
the eggs: Hoppin' John calls for the eggs at room temperature, but
then notes that he brought them to room temperature in the subtropical
warmth of the Lowcountry. He suggests, after bringing the eggs to
room temperature in your kitchen, to "warm both mixing bowls and
eggs by running hot water over them before using them in baking
recipes." Do not leave eggs out of the refrigerator for longer than
it takes them to just get to room temperature since they should
not be left unrefrigerated longer than that.
(Updated: 10/07/08 SN)