Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

When I was a kid, my favorite dessert was spice cake with raisins and caramel frosting. Or maybe it was the small bowl of frosting leftover from making the spice cake. So it's no wonder I turned to an old classic on this most stressful week of first semester. Because the Bulgarian government gave all the schools in the city of Sofia a week off for a "Swine Flu Vacation" back in the fall, our first semester exams are condensed into just five days. Five days, 10 exams, lots of grading, lots of studying, lots of planning. Grumpy kids, grumpy teachers, and six surprise inches of snow as I was beginning to think of spring. But Sunday night we had our usual international faculty potluck, and I dug deep for a traditional spice cake. I found two likely looking recipes online - an apple spice cake from David Lebovitz and a caramel frosting at the Food Network. Combined, they equal a rich apple-y cinnamon caramel gooey goodness to put a smile on my face even as first semester explodes into its finale. Oh yeah, and the other people at our party liked it too.

Apple Spice Cake
(adapted from David Lebovitz)

2 TSBP butter
2 large green apples (peeled, cored, cut into cubes)
2 TBSP white granulated sugar

12 TBSP butter, softened
1 3/4 cup white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark raisins
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup plain yoghurt

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the apples over med-high heat until they turn golden brown, stirring only 3 or 4 times.

2. Once they are cooked, add 2 TBSP sugar and cook until the cubes are glazed and the butter has mostly evaporated. Put on a plate to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F, put a rack toward the bottom, and butter and flour a 12 cup bundt pan, tapping out any excess flour.

4. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla.

5. In a small bowl toss the raisins with a little flour to separate them.

6. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

7. Stir half of these dries into the main batter. Then add yoghurt. Then the rest of the dries. Don't mix too thoroughly, a few flour streaks are OK. Fold in the apples and raisins.

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating after 20 minutes. David Lebovitz's recipe suggests 45 minutes, but it took mine about 60. Start checking for doneness at 45, but expect it to take longer. Bake until a toothpick or a fork inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a rack or platter to cool completely.

Caramel Frosting
(from the Food Network, reduced by 1/2 and there was still a LOT)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/6 cup heavy cream
1/2 box (8 oz) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
walnut pieces (if you want)

1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil and then pour into a mixing bowl.

2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat with a mixer (or exhaust yourself with a whisk, like I did) until you like the consistency.

3. Ladle spoonfuls over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down each side and pool in little scallops at the edges. Sprinkle walnuts over the top and press some into the sides.


If you just can't get enough spice cake, try Pinch My Salt's Pumpkin Spice Cake, Jane Spice's Peach Spice Cake, or Serious Eats' Lavendar Honey Spice Cake.

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