Monday, November 4, 2013

Caramel Apple Cake

At work, I decided that I would bring a cake once a month to celebrate my coworkers who had birthdays that month. It takes a little stress off me for having to bake for every birthday, but I still get to bake cakes. For birthdays, I like to get a little fancier and make something more special. I decided to make a caramel apple cake. Caramel apples are a symbol of fall, and who doesn’t like caramel?

This cake is quite the cake. I took a couple of shortcuts, which I think sometimes it’s ok to use a time saver or two. I could have made the applesauce from scratch, but I often do my baking on weeknights and I figured I could find good quality applesauce that would also taste good. I tried making my own caramel sauce, but after two failed attempts I ended using some salted caramel sauce that I had in the refrigerator. I’ve had a really bad streak of luck with making caramel lately. I hope that passes soon.

This baked up beautifully. The layers were nice and even. It’s an unusual frosting, but turned out very nice. I frosted it up and refrigerated it for work the next day. Now, I always take pictures before I cut the cake, and it is unfortunate in this case because this was the most perfect cake you’d ever seen! The layers were flawless; the frosting was perfectly even between the layers. The flavors of this cake couldn’t be beat. With the applesauce in the batter, it’s a very forgiving cake to make and I don’t think you could over bake it. This was such a wonderful treat and just the perfect cake for fall.

Caramel Apple Cake
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups unsweetened applesauce

1½ cups sugar
1⁄3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄3 cup caramel sauce
Additional caramel sauce
Chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Sprinkle with flour and shake out the excess.

Make the cake: In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light. Add the eggs and stir until combined.

With the mixer running on low, add 1/3 the flour mixture and then half of the applesauce. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining applesauce. Add the final 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. 

Divide the batter between 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. Cool the cake in the pans for 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the frosting: In a medium 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 a large mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment, beat the mixture on high until cool. Reduce to low and add the butter, a little at a time, and the vanilla. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the caramel and mix until combined. The frosting is soft, but if it is too soft refrigerate it for 20 minutes or so.
Assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers on the cake base and spread with caramel frosting. Add another layer of cake and level and spread with more frosting. Place the last layer on top and make sure the layers are lined up. Frost with a very thin layer of frosting and chill for 30 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.  Drizzle the top of the cake with caramel sauce and press chopped pecans into the sides of the cake.

Recipe from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito via The Great Cake Company

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