Tunnel of Ambrosia Cake

The Fish House in Stanley Park’s executive chef Karen Barnaby invented this recipe for a contest hosted by the growers of Ambrosia apples. The cake, laced with bourbon, earned first prize It’s rich and moist, so no icing is needed—just serve with a generous spoonful of whipped cream and a cup of Earl Grey tea.

For apple filling:

1/2 lb cream cheese, at room temperature 250 g
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 125 mL
1/2 cup bourbon 125 mL
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 5 mL
1 large egg 1
1 1/2 lb peeled and cored Ambrosia apples, diced 750 g
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut 250 mL
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans 250 mL

For apple cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour 750 mL
2 tsp baking soda 10 mL
1 tbsp dried ground ginger 15 mL
2 tsp cinnamon 10 mL
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 5 mL
1/2 tsp ground cardamom 2 mL
1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 125 mL
1/2 cup granulated sugar 125 mL
3/4 cup dark brown sugar 175 mL
2 tbsp molasses 25 mL
2 tsp pure vanilla extract 10 mL
2 large eggs 2
1 cup peeled and grated Ambrosia apple 250 mL
1 cup buttermilk 250 mL

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Generously spray a 10-inch/25 cm tube pan with cooking spray.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese and brown sugar; beat with an electric mixer or by hand until well combined. Beat in the bourbon, vanilla extract and egg until the filling is a smooth consistency. Stir in the apple, coconut and pecans. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and salt.

With an electric mixer or by hand, cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the molasses and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each. Beat in the grated apple. Add one-third of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk, beating to combine. Continue in this way until all the flour and buttermilk has been added to the batter.

Spread one-third of the batter into the tube pan. Spoon the Ambrosia apple filling evenly over the batter. Spread the remaining batter on top of the apples.

Bake for 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes before turning out of the pan. Let cool completely before slicing.


Credit: executive chef Karen Barnaby, The Fish House in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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