Saturday, September 3, 2011
Caramel Apple Cake
Every year at this time I get a renewed excitement about this space. Maybe it is the fact that we try not to turn the heat on until October, so I find myself lingering in the kitchen a lot more. Fall is a time when things start slowing down. The leaves are already changing to yellow. As much as I love summer veggies and fresh greens, there is nothing more comforting to me than the foods of the fall season. I find much more inspiration in root vegetables, apples, pears, and cranberries.
So, this week I asked around the office as to what kind of cake the blog might like for its birthday. I initially received a lackluster response. You see, they haven't really caught on yet that the blog can't actually eat cake. There are always leftovers when I make food for the blog. Once I explained the situation it was obvious that everyone was feeling the effects of the cooler and shorter days. All the requests were for fall flavors. What better cake for this fall weather than caramel apple? This recipe is pretty involved, I recommend spreading the work over two days if you are going to tackle this project. I made the cake and caramel sauce the first day. The next I made the frosting and assembled the cake. I also had a little trouble with the frosting separating, but after a lot of mixing on high speed it eventually came back together. I had almost given up on it, I'm glad I didn't.
Caramel Apple Cake
adapted slightly from Baked Explorations
Ingredients for the Apple Cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 ½ cups [3 sticks] unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups unsweetened applesauce
Ingredients for the Caramel Butter Cream:
1 ½ cups sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups [3 sticks] unsalted butter, soft but cook, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓cup plus 2 tablespoon Classic Caramel Sauce at room temperature [recipe at bottom of page]
Preparing the Apple Cake:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment the flour and knock out the excess flour.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack over 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely
Preparing the Caramel Buttercream:
In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. This could take up to 20 minutes, be sure to the side of the mixing bowl feels cool to the touch. Reduce speed to low and add the butter and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If your frosting separates, turn the speed to high and continue beating until it comes back together and becomes light and fluffy.
Add 1/2 cup of the caramel and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about 1 ¼ cups of frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, and then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. This is known as crumb coating and will help to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake. Frost the sides and top with remaining frosting. Drizzle on a few swirls of caramel and refrigerate the finish cake for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving.
This cake will keep, covered for at least three days in a cool, dry place.
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
½ cup [1 stick] butter, softened, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 ½ cups heavy cream
In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with ½ cup water. Stir the mixture gently so that you don’t slosh any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once begins to turn a rich caramel color, remove from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.
You can save the caramel sauce, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week. Let it come to room temperature before using it on cakes, ice cream, or quick breads.