Mothers & Sons’ Apple Rosemary Cake

Mothers & Sons’ executive sous chef Phil Bey started serving this Apple Rosemary Cake in October. The cake is served warm, dusted with powdered sugar and topped with a dollop of vanilla-whipped mascarpone and some crumbled pine nut nougatine. We pared the recipe down with only the cake and the whipped mascarpone, which is an alternative to whipped cream. From executive sous chef Phil Bey of Mothers & Sons restaurant in Durham. Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, The N&O, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; or email

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for buttering pan

2 medium to large firm apples, such as Macintosh or Honey Crisp, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

Pinch of ground star anise and ground nutmeg

1/4 cup water

1 sprig rosemary

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for greasing pan

1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground star anise

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone (recipe below)

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat until bubbling. Add apples, 2 tablespoons sugar and a pinch each of star anise and nutmeg. Sauté apples until just tender and getting a hint of color, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Remove rosemary and let cool.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If you have a convection oven, which Bey prefers for this cake, heat to 325 degrees.

Use a small amount of flour and butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 10-inch spring form pan. Set aside.

Place 1 cup sugar, 8 tablespoons butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Whip on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to fully incorporate between additions.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, star anise and nutmeg in a small bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold dry ingredients into wet mixture. Fold in sauteed apples until fully combined. Spread mixture into a spring form pan and place in oven to bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove cake from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Use a wooden skewer to poke small holes all over the top of the cake. Pour syrup evenly over the cake. Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pans.

Cut slice of cake and serve with a dollop of Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone cheese.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone

If the mascarpone is very thick, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream to it for easier whipping. Place leftover vanilla bean pod in 2 cups granulated sugar and allow to sit for 3 days to make vanilla sugar. From executive sous chef Phil Bey of Mothers & Sons restaurant in Durham.

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 whole vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Pinch of sea salt

Combine mascarpone, vanilla bean seeds, powdered sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat together on low speed until fully incorporated. Increase speed to medium high and whip for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Yield: about 1 cup