As I told you yesterday, when I found out we were having a guest for dinner, I looked at my neglected cookbooks and, like Andy in "Toy Story," took them off the shelf to play. One of them was a favorite — "Baked: Explorations" — which always yields great results, but every damn recipe is time-intensive. I opted to make the Caramel Apple cake (recipe under the jump!) and just so you know, it's meant to create a three-layer 8-inch cake, but I have 9-inch cake pans and I didn't have high hopes we could decimate a 3-layer cake, so I halved the recipe.
This is the kind of cake that is so autumnal, even the spice/flour/sugar/salt mix smells amazing. This calls for ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice and every whiff was magical.
For expediency's sake, I opted to use natural pre-made applesauce rather than make my own. If you make the full recipe, you're gonna need 4 full cups of applesauce, which is the equivalent of 8 of the mini-cups! I added the applesauce to a mixture of butter and egg, alternating the flour mixture with applesauce three times, beginning and finishing with flour mix.
I poured the batter into cake pans that I prepped by first buttering them, then lining the bottom with parchment, which I also buttered. This was a bit intense, but proved perfect to slide the cakes right out with no mess or fuss.
I baked the cakes in an oven preheated to 325 degrees, rotating them halfway through the 40 minutes it took them to bake.
Meanwhile, I got started on the caramel buttercream, which calls for making an INSANE amount of Baked's caramel sauce. Seriously, I made so much I ended up sending Andi home with a jar of the stuff. First, I heated a mixture of sugar, flour, milk and cream over medium heat, then when that was finished, beat it with butter and vanilla until it was thick frosting.
To make the caramel sauce, I boiled sugar and corn syrup until it turned a rich caramel color, then moved it quickly off the heat and added butter and cream, stirring fast.
The resulting caramel sauce, once cooled, went in the frosting and was mixed until I had the perfect icing.
All of this was hunky dory until it came time for cake assembly, when I realized, Oh right, I have no idea how to properly ice a cake. Nightmares!
I started out trying to do that perfect smooth icing and it looked awful. Then I tried to add the caramel swirls, with the marblelized effect, and oh boy, that looked terrible. I ended up just smearing it around in defeat. But! The good news is: the cake tasted great. The one little tweak I would make is perhaps making it a salted caramel cake...it was a touch too sweet for my taste.
Caramel Apple Cake
from Baked: Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito