Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Sauce

It seems like I have a never-ending supply of recipes. With every new magazine and cookbook I receive, with every cooking blog and website I visit, there are what seem like thousands of new dishes that look delicious and I can’t wait to make. So I rip out pages from the magazines, tag the books, and bookmark all those great creations I see online. I think I’ve compiled a list of so many recipes that I wouldn’t be able to make all of them in this lifetime. And the number of cake recipes is extremely plentiful. There’s just something about them that I can’t say no to.

However, for all of these cake creations that I hold on to, and for all of the cakes that I do bake, the number of recipes that I actually keep in my list of “favorite recipes” is relatively short. A handful at most. Because I only keep the ones that are really good.
And when I say good, what I really mean is amazing. Because there will always be the next new recipe out there to try that’s just good, but only once in a while will one come along that’s amazing. One that’s worth being willing to make again. This cake, is in the amazing category. It is hands down, one of my absolute favorite cakes.

And I think a big part of the reason it’s one of my favorites is because it’s so reliable. I’ve had recipes that I’ve loved, and then when I try and make them a second time they don’t hold up to how I remembered them. This cake has been consistently delicious the every single time I’ve made it. It’s not fussy or temperamental, it’s just an honest to goodness amazing cake.

Incredibly moist and tender, studded with chunks of apple in each bite, and the best part is, it will never fail you. Whoever you serve it to will always be consistently impressed. It’s a great go-to cake for any event. It’s homey all on it’s own served at a brunch or a picnic, and can be dressed up with the caramel sauce for a dinner party or special occasion. It’s also a cinch to make. The cake batter comes together in just one bowl, and the caramel sauce is literally just mix and heat. It holds up well if you need to travel with it, and will taste just as good a few days after you make it if it’s kept well covered.
Ok, have I gone on about this cake enough? Well too bad, because there’s just one more thing. It’s also the cake I turn to when I need to feel good about my baking skills. For example, this past weekend I tried out a new cake recipe that just fell flat. I served it at a dinner party, and I went home feeling like I needed to make something to redeem myself. So naturally I turned to this gem of a cake. It was just the thing to bring my baking spirits back up.

Ok, that’s it, I’m done going on and on about a cake. Just trust me, and make it, although I can't guarantee it won't make you want to go on and on about it as well.
Ahhh the bundt pan. The unofficial Queen of Pans. They make any cake look more elegant. If you don’t have one, an angel food cake pan otherwise known as a tube pan will also work. Whichever it is, make sure to grease it well, you want every gorgeous nook and cranny to be well taken care of.

This recipe starts with sifting together the dry ingredients. I know sifting can sometimes be a bit of a pain, but if the recipe calls for it, it usually helps in the final result of the cake. If you don’t have a sifter or a fine mesh sieve, you can whisk the ingredients together, which will produce similar results.
The ingredients that get sifted together in this recipe are flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Baking soda is pretty incredible stuff. When it’s combined with the other ingredients in a recipe (usually a liquid and an acid) it undergoes a chemical reaction that releases bubbles of carbon dioxide. These bubbles become trapped in the batter, and enable the cake to rise. The bubbles also create little pockets in the cake, which is where all those delicious crumbs come from.
This baking soda looks like its beaming, it really is magical stuff.
I don’t own a traditional sifter, so I use a fine mesh sieve. I find I actually like the way it works a little better, and I love that it can serve double duty as a sifter and a strainer.
Once you’ve got the dry ingredients sifted, the eggs, oil and sugar get mixed together until they are lemon yellow. As you can see I forgot, once again, to bring my eggs to room temperature ahead of time, so I ran them under warm water for a couple minute to bring them up to speed.
Once the mixture is lemon color, the flour gets added in slowly until it just comes together. I may not have any pictures of what this looks like, but I do have some great apple pictures. Here’s one that’s been peeled. Poor naked apple.
And here they are chopped up into little bite-size pieces. Great right?
I’ve also got a picture of some chopped pecans if that helps for the lack of batter shots. You don’t have to add nuts to the batter if it just ain’t your thing, but I would highly recommend it. They add a nice texture to the cake. And if you don’t have any pecans, walnuts would be good in this as well.
Once the apples and nuts are added in, you will have a very thick batter. A splash of vanilla is the final touch. Scoop the batter in to your prepared pan, and find something to occupy yourself with for about an hour. Just prepare yourself, because you will be about to have a mind-blowing apple cake experience.
I found that I don’t bake this cake for as long as the original recipe suggests. I usually take it out when a few moist crumbs are still attached to a toothpick when inserted in the cake. Once it comes out of the oven go ahead and let it cool enough until the pan can be handled, then invert it onto a serving dish.

The caramel sauce couldn’t be simpler. Just mix all the ingredients together in a pan and then heat until they are thickened. I let the sauce cool for a little while once I take it off the stove which thickens it up.
So please, try out this cake recipe for yourself, and see if it deems itself worthy for you to hang on to.

Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Martha Stewart.com

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped assorted nuts, such as pecans and walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Nonstick cooking spray with flour or softened butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Working over a large sheet of parchment or wax paper, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; gather sifted ingredients into center of sheet; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs; mix on high speed until lemon yellow.

Fold reserved parchment in half lengthwise; with mixer on medium speed, gradually shake in dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Add apples and, if desired, nuts, to batter; mix to combine. Add vanilla, mixing until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 70 - 75 minutes (I started checking mine at 1 hour, but ultimately it needed about 70 minutes)

Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack.

Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack, and serve drizzled with caramel sauce

Caramel Sauce
1 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 7-10 minutes. I took mine off the heat and let it cool down for a little while which thickened it even more.


  1. This is one of my favorites too! I made it for a work lunch, but I did a layer cake and with a mediocre maple icing. Next time I will go with the bundt pan and caramel, thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Okay...You convinced me I just book marked this and I will make it this weekend. Thanks!

  3. @Whitvia: You won't be sorry! I swear this cake can do no wrong!

  4. This looks amazing! I just bought this cute mini-bundt pan and can't wait to use it. Do you think this recipe would work?

  5. I think it would work, I would just recommend chopping up the apples real small. I made it in mini loaf pans for Christmas gifts and it turned out well. Thanks for reading!

  6. My husband says, Thank you! This was so good. He loved heating it up then putting a scoop of vanilla ice cream with it. I'm going to make this again in a couple weeks for my FIL but I'm going to try and make a cream cheese glaze for it.

  7. I'm so glad you liked it! I bet it will be mighty tasty with a cream cheese glaze!


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