I live on a street lined with old trees and these old trees turned a beautiful burnt orange last week. And this week, with the resigned knowledge that comes with many seasons passed, these trees have thrown their gorgeous ornaments all over my lawn as though they are stamping their roots in an arbor protest against the shorter days and the cold that accompanies them.
I hear you trees. I do not want the cold to come either. I hate waking up and knowing the sun will not be up for hours. I feel weighed down by the extra blanket that needs to be stacked on top of my fluffy duvet. I miss walking around my yard in bare feet.
However, all this said, there are some rather delightful things about fall: busting out my pretty new fall coat ranks very highly, hot tea with honey in the evenings, curling under a blanket with a book at 7 o’clock without guilt because it is dark out, cozy sweaters, walking through the leaves while the heat of the day is still hanging about and baked apple-everything.
The apples are ripe in fall. So, apples are ready to be baked in fall. I have been the lucky recipient of a flat of crab apples and a bag of regular apples. The first from my friend Sara’s lawn where they fell with reckless abandon and the second from my friend Rene, who picked a whole pile of them from her tree. With the first I made taffy crab apples… I will post them later because they are so cute and so fun. I also made disastrous crab apple jelly that ended up as crab apple syrup… there was no jellification happening in those wee jars. With the apples, I have baked up a delicious fall-worthy treat to compliment a gorgeous Indian meal cooked up just for us by our lovely friends, Rehana and Shameer.
So, autumn… come…. we embrace you and all your tasty goodness in the form of:
Caramel Apple Cake
Adapted from The Great Cake Company
Homemade Apple Sauce
10-11 apples (I used 2 golden delicious and the other 9 from my friend’s apple tree – they were small and red)
1 3/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Make the apple sauce: Mix everything together in a saucepan. Turn the heat on to medium and put the lid on. Leave to cook for about 17 minutes. Now that the apples are all soft and lovely, mash ’em up with a fork, masher or cheat like me and use a plunge mixer for quick apple sauce that’s a nice consistency. Make sure to let it cool before using it in the cake recipe as it will melt the butter if it is too hot.
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground all spice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups) cubed and at room temperature
2 cups sugar (I ran out of white so I used 1 1/2 cups white, 1/2 cup brown)
3 1/2 cups of apple sauce (which is exactly what the above recipe made for me). If you are buying your apple sauce, get the unsweetened kind and you can use the full four cups the recipe actually called for.
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Butter 3 x 8″ round pans. Fit parchment to the bottom of each pan and butter the parchment. Dust each pan with flour. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice and cloves together. Set aside.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy – about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat to combine. Now add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the apple sauce. Ensure to begin and end with the flour. Scrape the bowl and then beat again for another few seconds.
Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and smooth the top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine took about 46 minutes.
Place on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Boil up the caramel sauce: In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the sugar, syrup and water over medium high heat. Stir gently until sugar dissolves. At this point stop stirring. Increase the heat to high and allow to boil until it turns a rich caramel color (300F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in butter and cream until combined. If it hardens up, return to burner over low heat until combined. Let it come to room temperature before using it on the cake, or dipping your finger into it… it will burn you.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups) at room temperature cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup of the above caramel sauce (room temperature)
Now for the goodness that is buttercream: In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it boils and thickens: for about 10-15 minutes.
Transfer to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on high until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and the vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy. Add the caramel and mix in.
If the frosting is too soft, place in the fridge for a few minutes then beat again until it is the right consistency. If it is too firm, place over a water bath and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency. The proper consistency is spreadable with out being gooey, think creamy peanut butter.
Place one of the cake layers on the cake base and level off the top. Put a thin
layer of caramel sauce on the layers and then spread caramel buttercream on top.
Next, add another layer of cake and level and frost as you did with the first
layer. Trim the top of the last layer and then place it on top of the cake
bottom side up. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb
coat) and place the cake on the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the
fridge and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides. Use the
remaining caramel to drizzle over the top.