Monday, February 21, 2011

"Protect the Cake"

Happy Birthday to my friend and co-blogger, Jess. So of course I made her a cake. I took the opportunity to try a new recipe. I found this recipe in the book Baked Explorations which I had picked up at my local library. While this book is full of some very enticing recipes, I opted to make the "Caramel Apple Cake". While the author writes that he "never made it before August or after January", I broke the little "rule" and went for it. I love the typical flavors of and much so that they can't be limited to fall alone. I know Jess and I share this way of thinking so I knew that she would up for an apple cake. Interestingly enough, Jess was just telling me over lunch today that she was looking for a new pumpkin recipe to try. Great minds think alike. Anyway, on to this delicious cake. This three layer cake is moist, dense and delicious. The caramel buttercream is light and very complimentary to the spiced cake.

For the apple cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened applesauce.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. dust the parchment with 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 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 egg 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 40-45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake come out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.
Now, on to the good stuff the "Classic Caramel Sauce". I would make this next so that it has ample time to cool before you make the buttercream.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cups corn syrup
1/2 cup of butter, softened, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so 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 heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich caramel color, remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.

This caramel sauce turned out to be the most challenging task for me. It took me 4, yes 4, attempts at getting this right.

1. I followed the recipe as written. The sugar mixture wasn't turning caramel colored so I assumed that maybe I was supposed to use brown sugar instead of white sugar.

2. Then I made the recipe using brown sugar. Immediately after mixing the ingredients I realized that this wasn't right either.

3. I reverted back to white sugar and watched the mixture turn to a golden yellow. I took my eyes off of it for 30 seconds to a minute and by then the mixture was a dark caramel color and I had burnt it.
4. Success. Note to self and to all of you, watch it carefully.

Alright, now on to the buttercream.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Classic Caramel Sauce

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 standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the 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.

Add 1/3 cups 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 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.

Layer and frost the cake. Drizzle with swirls of caramel.

Everyone at work thoroughly enjoyed this cake. I immediately had requests for the recipe. Here is the greatest part of it all...Jess and I work as RNs at the local hospital. Security made an overhead announcement for a red alert aka fire drill/alarm... Jess put it best when she said "protect the cake". Guess it must have been good. :)

Bake on!


  1. What a crazy, rich {and delicious} looking cake!

  2. My mouth is watering and my stomach is grumbling! WOW!

  3. WOW! What a decadent and delicious cake! Love the cut view:)