Gateau invisible is a deceptive cake – made nearly entirely of apples, it’s named for way the thin slices seem to “disappear” into the batter. Like a number of desserts, it’s one which seems to have gained more traction in Japan than in it’s native France.
The cake is often scattered with a topping of slivered almonds before baking, though, for a bit of fun, I’ve borrowed the crackly, caramelized almond topping from the Scandavian toscakake. Doing so echoes the beloved pairing of apple, caramel and nuts while providing textural contrast between clafoutis-like custardy cake and crisp top.
This is such a satisfying cake to make. You begin with four large apples which balloon out into a mound of even slices. The magic happens when all the slices stack and fold, like pages of a book, neatly into a loaf tin.
When it comes to the tosca topping, some recipes pour the mixture of sugar, cream, butter and almonds on the cake midway through baking which allows the topping to caramelize gently over the remaining 20 minutes or so. I prefer broiling the topping for about 5 minutes right at the end – it’s an easier method for when you’re not quite certain how long a cake will take to bake.
invisible tosca cake
- 4 apples, each around 175g (weighed before peeling and coring)
- 3 large eggs
- 50g granulated sugar
- 60mL milk
- 80g all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 50g butter, melted and cooled
- 38g butter
- heaping 1/4 cup slivered almonds, skin on
- 50g granulated sugar’
- 60g heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a loaf tin with a parchment paper sling and butter the exposed sides. Lightly dust the buttered sides with sugar and shake off the excess.
Peel the apples. Cut two halves off from either side of the core, then cut the remaining apple edges off, leaving a square core behind – photos above, or refer to Kirbie’s Cravings for a helpful description of how to cut the apples. Placing the pieces of apples flat side down on a cutting board and slice 2mm thick.
For the cake batter, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk.
Stir the flour and cinnamon together in a smaller bowl, then sift overtop of the egg mixture. Whisk in until the batter is smooth. Lastly, whisk in the melted butter.
To help ensure every apple slice was coated with batter and not adhered to other slices, I added the slices to the batter in three additions. Take one third of the slices, separate any stuck together, and sprinkle them over top of the batter. Fold in gently with a rubber spatula, using folding motions as opposed to stirring to avoid breaking up the slices. Repeat with the remaining two thirds of apple slices.
Arrange the apple slices in the prepared loaf pan, one scoopful at a time – try to make it so that all the slices lie flat and mostly in the same direction, and pack them as densely as you can. Pour the remaining batter evenly over top to fill in the gaps, using the rubber spatula to scrape any remaining batter from the bowl.
Place in the oven and bake around 50-60 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed quite clean – at the 40 minutes mark you may need to tent the cake with foil to prevent the top from burning.
Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and immediately start on the topping. Heat the butter in a small saucepan and add the almonds, cooking until the almonds begin to turn golden and toasted. Add the sugar and cream and bring to a boil. Boil for around 2 1/2 minutes or until the topping becomes a slightly darker tan colour and thickens a bit. Pour overtop of the cake and spread out the almonds evenly.
Set the oven to the broiler and put the cake on the middle rack. Broil until the topping is bubbly and browned, rotating every so often. I broiled my cake for 6 minutes, but watch it carefully!
Let cool completely, then chill the cake to firm it up. Before eating you can briefly broil the cake once more just to warm up the topping and bring back it’s crispness.