Saturday, March 9, 2013

Apple Spice Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting



When I was little, my mother used to take me and my brother to a mercantile shop situated in what looked like a giant old barn. The only things I can remember them selling were fancy sliced soaps and local fruits and vegetables, but I know there had to be other things for sale in the shop because, as an adult looking back at that selection, it seems kind of weird. I always spent a good 5 minutes straightaway smelling all the soap slices and admiring their intricate patterns. Then I'd eventually meander around the store until my mom beckoned us to the cafe counter, which I would eagerly scurry over to with the hope that I'd get a little something from the high-up countertop. In the fall and winter they would sell piping hot homemade apple cider, and year-round they had sliced apples with a little cup of caramel dip, and that's what we always got. As a child with wiggling loose teeth, I appreciated that they sold them sliced rather than whole because it was easier to bite into. And it also meant I could usually fanangle an obscene amount of caramel onto each slice (much more than a regular caramel apple would have allotted.)


My love for the simplicity of apples and caramel has continued since that point, and flourished into an appreciation of variations on that same flavor combination, which resulted in me making this ridiculously tasty caramel-apple themed cake. I incorporated a salted caramel glaze into the whipped and fluffy frosting, and used apple sauce and spices to give the cake that warm and cozy apple flavor. The result was a cake unlike any I'd had before. The salted caramel flavor of the frosting didn't kick in until about a second after the first bite, which made for a nice surprise and really pleasant aftertaste. And the texture of the frosting was just wonderful, light and smooth and airy and everything that a frosting should be. This was my first time making a frosting with the flour-milk technique, and at first I was skeptical that it would end up as a fluffy frosting when it looked like Elmer's glue in the saucepan, but it totally worked! And even though there were more steps to it than a regular old butter and powdered sugar frosting, I found the lighter texture of this frosting style a lot easier to work with when it came to frosting the cake (i.e. I had zero cake crumbs come out into the frosting while I was spreading it on the cake, which was awesome.)


As for the cake, it was realllly moist (I know a lot of people hate that word, but there's no other way to describe it! Hydrated just sounds wrong when describing the moisture of a cake.) and it had the most beautiful apple-y smell. I could have sworn from the scent that I'd made an apple pie rather than a cake! But alas there was a large cake sitting in front of me, and so I helped myself to several pieces while making a mental note to bake some apple pie soon. I ended up making a lot of baked goods that weekend and invited my friend Ryan over to help me and Jeremy eat some of them, and this cake was his favorite of them all, so it has been friend-taste-tested and APPROVED. Also! A week ago I held a giveaway with King Arthur Flour for a St. Paddy's Day cupcake decorating set, and today I am announcing the winner! Barrrrrummmmbumbumbumbumbumbummmmm......

Congratulations Andrew's Mom!

I will be getting in touch with you shortly about your lovely gift! And I wanted to thank all of you for entering and for your comments. After reading them, I am ashamed to admit that I've never had corned beef and hash but after hearing you all rave about it I am definitely going to remedy that this Saint Patrick's day. Thank you again!



Ingredients:

Spiced Apple Cake

3 Eggs
2 and 1/4 Cups Flour
1 and 1/2 Cups Unsweetened Applesauce
1 and 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 and 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Cloves
1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
1/4 Cup Pecans

Salted Caramel Frosting

1 and 1/4 Cups Plus 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Plus 1/4 Cup Butter (unsalted), softened
1/4 Cup Plus 1 Tablespoon Flour
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt


Begin by making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until well blended. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract together with the paddle attachment until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until  the batter is smooth. Turn off the mixer and stir in the raisins and pecans. Evenly distribute the batter between 2 well-greased and lightly floured 8-inch cake pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Flip out onto a wire rack to cool.


While the cake is baking/cooling, you can get started on the frosting. The first step to this frosting is making the caramel. In a small thick-bottomed saucepan, mix together the water and 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and continue boiling until the mixture turns a light caramel color, only stirring once every four minutes. This could take anywhere between  8 to 15 minutes, the speed will depend upon the heat of your stovetop. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the heavy cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of the butter until incorporated. Be careful as the mixture will spit and hiss a bit. If the sugar begins to clump up when you're stirring do not fret, just stir as best as you can for about 30 seconds and then put the pot back on the heat and bring it back to a boil again over medium-low heat. Once it is boiling again stir until the sugar chunk dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Once it smoothes out, stir it every two minutes and allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and stir in the salt. It will look thin but it will thicken slightly as it cools. Set aside and allow to cool.


In a medium-sized thick-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk over medium heat. Continue whisking and heating the mixture until it gets slightly thicker than elmer's glue, (this took me about 8 minutes). Whisk in the vanilla extract and then set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature. 


Once the mixture is completely cooled, beat the remaining cup of butter and 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium-high speed until light and fluffy and whipped-looking, which should take about 3-5 minutes. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture and continue beating for another 2 minutes. Then drizzle in the salted caramel sauce while it is mixing and beat for 1 minute. Set the frosting aside.


Once the cake has cooled completely, frost it and serve.





43 comments:

  1. Ohhh my gosh, I must make this very soon. Fall in March? Duh.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks unbelievably yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hurray for flour frosting! Isn't it crazy how that weird gross porridge glue transforms into an amazing final product? I made a really big mistake the first time I made it, though, when I wound up leaving it alone for a moment and came back to a burnt layer on the bottom. I whisked it up into the mixture without realizing it was there at first, and I wound up with these yucky, tapioca-like balls in the frosting. :(

    Also, caramel apple slices win, 100% of the time. I have an unfortunate fear of eating whole apples ever since I bit into a gross brown spot when I was little, so that makes it pretty much impossible for me to enjoy traditional caramel apples.

    This cake looks and sounds absolutely awesome. And even though spring feels like it's just around the corner, I started getting fall and apple nostalgia from Aussie bloggers posting pictures of apple picking the past few days. Delicious is always in season! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! When I read their blogs I always end up wishing its the opposite season haha. I have burnt many a thing on the stovetop due to distraction, the worst being mushrooms. Burnt mushrooms smell AWFUL. It was terrible! Luckily I managed to keep my eye on the flour goo so it came out well :)

      Delete
  4. oooooh yes, flour frosting is SO. GOOD. I love that you went and put salted caramel in it too, that just multiplies the delicious by 1000! And that little bunch of flowers on top of the cake is so pretty!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Izy! I used them from the pear tree in my backyard, it was loaded with flowers towards the end of February!

      Delete
  5. I just started following you today! This cake looks amazing, but I would probably just make the frosting and eat all of that ;)!

    Paige
    http:thehappyflammily.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thank you Paige! The frosting was pretty addicting :)

      Delete
  6. I've never had or made flour frosting but I've seen it in a couple of places and really want to try! Apple and caramel is such a gorgeous combination - this looks like seriously good cake :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! It seems intimidating but it was well worth the effort, it made frosting the cake so much less stressful!

      Delete
  7. I love, LOVE caramel apples! I remember my first caramel apple after I got my braces off. It was magical! The frosting on this cake looks magical. Making my own frosting terrifies me. I made a bad batch of buttercream once, and it traumatized me for life. Your frosting involves a lot of pans, and cooking--cooking frosting?! eek!--but you write the recipe in a way that makes me think I could do this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES! The first post-braces caramel apple is one of life's finest moments. Also, being able to eat soft untoasted bread without mounds of it stuck on top of your teeth. And you can definitely do this, Brianne! If you can be as knowledgable as you are about complex pollination patterns, you can definitely make this frosting :) Just keep a close eye on it and stir so it doesn't get toasty on the bottom.

      Delete
  8. That cake looks amazing . . . and very moist :) I always use that word too! I think apples and caramel are one of the best flavor combinations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, thanks Laura! Me too, I have been wanting to try making an apple flavored macaron with a salted caramel filling. Someday I will attempt it!

      Delete
  9. i can think of no better frosting to pair with this magnificent cake! fantastic. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Grace! It was so fluffy and soft, a dream to work with.

      Delete
  10. There's nothing better than apples and caramel together. And this cake is out of control beautiful!!

    Sues

    ReplyDelete
  11. This looks delicious! I will try to make this for a Easter dinner party :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful! Let me know how it comes out for you :)

      Delete
  12. Stupid little question ; what kind of flower are those?

    Thanks!
    Sara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not silly at all! They're pear blossoms :)

      Delete
  13. Why aren't we neighbors? We could have tea and cake together every... single... day. Missing you a ton!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww I wish we were! Hopefully in 4-5 years we will be Portland neighbors haha. I miss you too lady, should be home for a weekend in May so we will have to get coffee or tea together in the city!

      Delete
  14. Oh, this is too awesome. First of all, flour-based frosting! Woo-hoo! Is it a new thing or something? I'd just recently given it a try and it was kind of revelatory. So fluffy and light and not-too-sweet. Also, when I was small, I used to love those sour apple lollipops covered with caramel. Caramel and apple is a match made in heaven! I love how you turned the pairing into cake form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, I used to eat those lollipops too! We would get them at school if we turned in all our assignments on time (or something along those lines) and I honestly think those candies made me a better student. Thanks, caramel apple lollipop-makers!

      Delete
  15. Okay, so this looks and sounds amazing. Goin' on the short list of things to make ASAP.
    Came across your blog by accident and when checkin' out your About page, was floored by what a small world it is in blogland. Happy spring from Portland! :)
    Oh, and my mom grew up in Hood River and HAD a cow named Henrietta. I once got to rub the nose of a calf (the cutest thing in the WORLD) and now I'm pretty sure I need one as well.
    Glad I stopped in. I'm your newest subscriber.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is too funny! I was just thinking about how much I miss spring in the northwest, the bulbs take much better to the cool climate up there. And your mom's life sounds like my dream life haha. Baby cows really are just the cutest little things! Such big and beautiful eyes. Thank you for your kind words and for finding my blog :)

      Delete
  16. Oh, phooey, phooey, phooey! This is making me so hungry for just this cake... but it's too late and I'm trying to lose five pounds quickly! Phooey! So, it's a very successful image - BEAUTIFUL! =)

    btw, I think that you left a comment on my blog but it only showed up in my email... never published. The point is, I'm from Pasadena - I grew up there! =) I haven't been back home for ten years but I'll be there this month! Wow! =)

    That's all! =)

    Best wishes!

    katy

    ReplyDelete
  17. I must have done something wrong because the frosting is very runny. Is there anything I can do to prop it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like the mixtures hadn't cooled completely before you started mixing them together. Put the frosting mixture in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to help it cool down and firm up a bit and then try mixing again.

      Delete
  18. Regarding my frosting which was runny. I was in a big hurry and yes, I should have cooled it completly, that was the reason for the failure. Tried the frosting again today, it's amazing. What drew me to the recipe was the picture! I suppose it should,because I see that you are a food stylist. Beautiful pictures. Thank-you. Carol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carol! I am glad it came together the next day after a chill in the fridge, it is quite a tasty frosting indeed! Thank you so much for making the recipe :)

      Delete
  19. My boyfriend made this cake for me yesterday, and it was absolutely amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hurray!!! I am very happy to hear that you two enjoyed it!

      Delete
  20. sooo.. thinking ahead to passover next year is there any way to make the icing (just the icing obviously) without the flour?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could make a simple buttercream frosting and then drizzle the cooled salted caramel into it while beating at the very end. It will be a thicker and more dense frosting, not as light and fluffy as the flour based option, but still tasty.

      You could also just mix the salted caramel into whipped cream and ice the cake with that.

      Here is a simple Buttercream recipe:

      3 Cups Sifted Confectioner's Sugar
      1 and 1/4 Cups Unsalted Butter, softened
      1 Tablespoon Milk
      1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

      Beat together the confectioner's sugar and butter until they have a thick and heavy consistency, (about 5 minutes). Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until the frosting becomes smooth.

      Delete
  21. oh, yes, whipped cream - that's always good... thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  22. This looks amazing! Can't wait to try this recipe in the Fall! Thanks for sharing.....

    ReplyDelete
  23. I made half of this recipe last night and I LOVE IT! I used to make an applesauce cake recipe which I had lost, was searching for something similar and now this one has replaced it. That FROSTING IS SO EASY AND YUMMM! Thank you for sharing this recipe :) all spice cake and salted caramel lovers should try it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome!! I am so happy you liked it :) I love the spiced and caramel combination too, so perfect for this time of year.

      Delete