He very much enjoyed being a cat, he thought.
Up high on his perch, an apple tree as it happened, Sebastian gazed down at the cemetery below. The sun had been shrouded in mist all day and now slowly disappeared behind the mausoleum. Sebastian’s black tail flicked lazily as he watched the rest of the tourists trickle out of old St. Louis Cemetery, off to dinner but more likely drinks in the bustling French Quarter.
That’s what they would be telling themselves, he thought with a yawn, as they moved a little quicker through the fading light. They’ll tell themselves it’s late, they should be going back to the hotel, to a bar. But really it was the mist and the chill and the place that sent them scurrying like rats.
Once upon a time, he would’ve been one of them. But Sebastian knew better these days. These days, since the turn, it was better to stay in the trees and on rooftops.
It was barely dark when the first tomb opened. Sebastian watched the cold cement door shake and thrash and shift. He saw the hand emerge from behind it. If he was still a man, he would’ve been very, very afraid of what emerged.
I love New Orleans. Something about this dessert just sent me tumbling back there for a second.
It feels strange to pair a spooky story with such a luxury-looking dessert… but isn’t it pretty? Nicole’s recipe card features the French title in all its glory, a jumble of words that I would not have the courage to say out loud if I presented this cake, with a flourish, to a room full of friends. Isn’t it funny, the overlap between the friends you love the most and the ones you want to feed with French apple cakes and caramel sauce… are the same friends, the same exact people, who would mock you mercilessly for coming into the room and saying, “Here we go! A, uh, a Gaston Pieu Cretons with Pomme Frites… or something. It’s cake, okay? It’s apple cake. I hate you guys.”
My pal Meg is getting married tomorrow. Here. In Portland. Even though she lives in New York. Wasn’t that so considerate of her? I barely have to leave my house for this one. AND all of our friends are trickling into town! As we speak! My little city is soon going to be dotted with some of my favorite human beings, in a weird and wonderful overlap of life phases- college, abroad, our time in LA… You’ll excuse me if I bow out now, right? It’s Friday and there are hugs to be given. Hugs and apple cake. Happy Friday.
Caramelized Apple Cake with Salty Caramel Sauce (Gâteau Breton aux Pommes)
for the salted caramel sauce:
½ Cup of sugar
½ Cup of heavy cream
3 TBsp of unsalted butter
½ Teaspoon of kosher salt
for the cake:
12 TBsps (1 and ½ sticks) of unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled, divided, plus more, room temperature, for pan
1 and ¼ Cups of all-purpose flour plus more for pan
4 Firm, tart apples (such as Pink Lady or Braeburn; about 2 lb.), peeled, cored, sliced ½” thick
2 TBsps plus 1 cup plus sugar, divided
1 Teaspoon of baking powder
¾ Teaspoon of kosher salt
1 Teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
3 Large eggs
Crème fraîche (for serving)
For the caramel:
Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in butter and salt. Pour caramel sauce into a small heatproof jar or bowl; let cool.
DO AHEAD: Caramel sauce can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.
For the cake:
Place rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter and flour cake pan; set aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp. melted butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apples, sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. sugar, and cook, tossing occasionally, until apples are golden brown, 10–12 minutes. Arrange half of the apples in the bottom of prepared cake pan so most of it is covered (a few gaps are okay).
Whisk baking powder, salt, lemon zest, 1¼ cups flour, and remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs and remaining 10 Tbsp. melted butter until smooth.
Pour half of batter over apples in cake pan, top with remaining apples, then pour remaining batter over. Bake cake until top is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool slightly; turn out onto rack and let cool.
Serve cake with caramel sauce and crème fraîche.