Autumn Icebox Cake
Fills one 6½” x 8½” Pyrex ovenware dish or one 8” square ceramic dish
For the graham crackers-
(from Meg Ray)
makes 15 three inch cookies
1½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar combined with ½ teaspoon cinnamon, for sprinkling
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and wheat flour, salt, and cinnamon. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Beat until fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, pat it into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with whole wheat flour, roll the dough out to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Cut out squares of dough using a 3” square cookie cutter. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, about ½” apart. Use the tip of a skewer to add indentations to the cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until golden, rotating the pans halfway through, for a total of 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely before assembling the icebox cake.
For the apple sauce-
(I like to add the peels of red-hued apples to give the sauce a rosy color)
3 pounds of apples (use a mix of Gala, Macintosh, Winesap) rinsed, peeled, cored
and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar OR 1 tablespoon honey
1 or 2 long strips of lemon peel (avoid the white pith)
juice of 1 small lemon (1-2 tablespoons depending on sweetness of apples)
¼ cup good quality apple cider
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, place the apples, brown sugar, (or honey) lemon peels, juice and apple cider. Simmer over low heat until the apples soften, about 15-20 minutes. Place the apple mixture in a ricer/food mill and process until you have a smooth sauce. (Alternatively, you can place the apple mixture in a large bowl, pluck out the peels and use a potato masher.) Cover the apple sauce and refrigerate completely before assembling the icebox cake.
For the whipped cream-
1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the cream and sugar with a handheld electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla, whisking once or twice to combine. Be careful not to over beat the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
To Assemble the Cake-
(Fills one 6½” x 8½” Pyrex ovenware dish or one 8” square ceramic dish)
Place a thin layer of whipped cream on the bottom of the dish to anchor the graham crackers. Cut three of the graham crackers in half using a serrated knife. Add a single layer of graham crackers and halves on top of the whipped cream. Top the graham crackers with a layer of applesauce (about ¾ of a cup.) Top the applesauce with whipped cream, the whipped cream with graham crackers, and another layer of applesauce. The top layer of the cake should be whipped cream. (You should have a total of three layers. (There will be extra graham crackers and applesauce which helps to sustain you while you wait for the cake to chill.)
Garnish the top of the cake with graham cracker crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, (preferably overnight) before serving. Use a sharp knife to cut neat squares. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
(Note: You can layer whipped cream, graham crackers, and applesauce in any number of glass or ceramic dishes. The trick is having the patience to allow the layers to meld together; it’s best to prepare this ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge overnight before serving.)
From The Elegant But Easy Cookbook by Marian Fox Burros and Lois Levine
(The original recipe was titled “Fruit Torte” and was baked in a 9” springform pan.
Baked in an 8” cast iron skillet results in a pudgier, taller cake. I’ve swapped out the traditional Italian prune plums for a mix of purple plums, and replaced the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat and some finely ground almonds. The ladies Burros/Levine preferred a full cup of sugar in their recipe; I think ½ cup of sugar is sweet enough. I prefer cardamom to cinnamon, but feel free to make the cake your own.)
Cake fills an 8” cast iron skillet
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
¼ cup finely ground almonds
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz. plums, rinsed, halved, pits removed, each half sliced in eighths
½ teaspoon cardamom combined with 1 tablespoon sugar
generous squeeze of lemon juice (1 or 2 teaspoons, depending on the sweetness of the plums)
In a large bowl, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and ground almonds. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl. (I like to use a large mixing bowl and a hand-held electric mixer.) Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the lemon zest, almond and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour/almond mixture, beating until well combined.
In a medium bowl, place the plums slices and toss with the cardamom/sugar mixture and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Scrape the batter into a lightly buttered/floured 8” cast iron skillet. Cover the batter with the sugared plum slices; the original recipe asks you to place the plums skin side up on top of the batter. As the torte bakes, the batter snuggles up around the fruit. I like to fan the plum slices over the batter; this boasts a little more plum on top. Either way, the cake bakes up beautifully.
Place the skillet on the middle rack of the pre-heated 350 degree F oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake tests clean with a skewer or small paring knife. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, or yogurt with a drizzle of honey. Wrap any leftovers tightly in plastic wrap. The cake lasts for up to 3 days at room temperature.
(from Molly O’Neill and Chez Panisse)
Serves 6 to 8
For the berries-
4½ cups wild blueberries, rinsed, stems removed, patted dry on paper towels
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
For the dough-
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ tablespoons sugar
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup heavy cream, plus additional for serving, if desired
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the berries in a medium bowl, toss with the sugar and flour; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add the cream and mix lightly, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and you have a soft dough. Gather the dough together and pat it into a circle about 8” in diameter and about ½” thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out eight 2½” circles.
Place the blueberries in a 1½ quart baking dish or a pie plate measuring 9½ inches across x 2 inches deep. Arrange the circles of dough over the top of the berries. Bake on the middle rack of the preheated oven until the topping is golden and the juices bubble thickly around it, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cool slightly. Serve warm with cream to pour on top, if desired. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.