12 Reviews

I regret not reading these reviews before I attempted the recipe on the Cooks Illustrated site. What a huge disappointment and waste of perfectly good apples. Oily, oily, oily. Shame on Cooks Illustrated.

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Tami K. January 11, 2014

First let me say that when I try a new recipe I follow it to the letter, otherwise if it doesn't turn out, one has no justification to complain. I did follow this recipe exactly, including using all the specified ingredients, including Crisco Oil, which cook's rated #1. My results were as the reviewer, patandjimg, has already stated, oily, flavorless cake?. This cake is so oily that I found it nauseating; admittedly I am over sensitive to oil and grease. Quite frankly, the flavor was bland and lacked any hearty apple flavor. As my wife stated, in the length of time it took you to do this cake you could have turned out one of your wonderful apple strudels. This recipe needs a lot of work, so much so I would just toss it out and start over from scratch. Shame on Cooks I expected a lot more from them.

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rwomackintx_7926784 October 15, 2013

Oily, flavorless cake, no discernible custard/cake layers. Only changes I made to the recipe were using Honeycrisp apples, since I have a treeful of them, and using brandy instead of whatever booze they called for.I can't imagine 1 T. of that would improve the flavor that dramatically. The Honeycrisps were fine. Followed the directions to the letter. First recipe I've ever used from Cooks Illustrated that was a flop.

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patandjimg_12112378 October 07, 2013

This cake will please people who don't care for dessert. It's not very sweet or very flavorful but it is super moist. (too moist). The one thing I liked was the sweet crispy crust on top. My husband liked it as is but I note he isn't a dessert person and hates most sweets. I think if I made it again I'd make it with 1/2 the amount of fat and use a combination of oil and butter for a better flavor. My cake also leaked oil. I would also add maybe an almond taste to batter you pour on top with some sliced almonds for flavor. Maybe just a teaspoon more of flour to the extra cup of batter too.

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lnaalba_9269645 November 06, 2014

I made this two years ago for Easter, and it was terrific. It was beautiful, elegant and had great flavor and texture. I recently made it again in preparation for Easter (planning to freeze for a week), and something didn't seem right. It was seeping oil and looked like a wet sponge. I decided I'd better taste it and make another if necessary. It was tasteless and unctuous. Amazingly it lacked sweetness despite a full cup of sugar. I made it again -- same result. Now I'm completely confused. I've pored over the recipe trying to find a small step that I've missed, but I don't see it. I've made many cakes with large amounts of vegetable oil, and they have always turned out moist and tender. But something is wrong here. I can't seem to recreate the magic of my first attempt. I wish there was a way to communicate with CI to get feedback from their kitchen staff, maybe there is something here that we are all missing.

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Thomas D. March 23, 2016

I'm not sure what the other reviewers are talking about. This cake was a perfect blend of textures/layers. I used canola oil, not crisco and only excluded the liquor because I didn't have it on hand.

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athena.interact December 15, 2015

Before you do anything, watch a couple of videos or read about leak proofing a springform pan. Next, read these reviews, and consider making modifications. One I will certainly make in the future, is cutting back on the oil. This was very oily. I'm gonna give it another try.

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Clevergirl7 November 10, 2015

Such a fun recipe to make! It looked so delicious on the cooking show that I couldn't wait to try it. My first attempt turned out very moist but disappointingly bland. I found that the recipe was greatly improved by substituting 1 cup vanilla pudding for the milk, and adding 1 Tbs cinnamon to the apples along with the brandy and lemon. The cinnamon also made the cake and custard layers more distinct. An orange glaze or vanilla sauce might be other easy ways to add a splash of flavor.

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joonbug47 April 15, 2014

Quite delicious, great texture! Followed recipe exactly except mine was done few minutes early. Looked just like it did on TV. Making again for guests tomorrow might.

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neensagers_6967608 December 06, 2013

Wonderful cake. I made this cake for the first time just as the recipe called for except I added white rum instead of the calvados. I did have to cook it a little longer (15 minutes) watching it carefully. It has more of a soft center consistency than a normal crumbly cake. The apples were not overcooked as in other apple cake recipes which made it more flavorful. Make sure you cool it before releasing the springform pan. I would make this cake again and again. We loved it.

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Cynthia S. October 07, 2013
French Apple Cake(Cook's Illustrated)