My birthday is today, 10-10-10! For such a great date, I had to have a great party! I went with a wine-and-cheese theme. Tim and I picked out 10 amazing cheeses at Cheeseboard, our local cheese shop, and I also baked two cakes. This caramel apple cake was my favorite, although the chocolate cake, which I'll post soon, was the crowd favorite (you can never go wrong with chocolate!). The cake itself is Dorie Greenspan's perfect party cake - which truly lives up to its name. I've made this cake for lots of parties, and it always comes out perfectly and is easy to pair with lots of different flavors. Here, it's filled with a sweet apple filling, and topped with my favorite brown sugar frosting. These were the perfect flavors for fall, and I was very happy with how everything came together.
Caramel Apple Cake (adapted from honey and jam, Dorie Greenspan, and You Made That Dessert?)
Makes 1 9-inch round cake
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray with flour (or butter and flour the pans). Set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Put the sugar and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
4. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature.
For the filling:
2 large apples, grated
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the apples are very tender and the liquid is mostly reduced.
For the frosting:
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
5 T butter, cut into 10 pieces
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Note: Do not make the frosting until the cake is assembled and ready to frost, as it must be used immediately.
1. Combine all frosting ingredients in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined. Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches a full boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil 1-2 minutes, whisking vigorously. (This will take quite a while, especially in a small pan - just be patient and keep whisking! For faster results, use a wider saucepan.)
2. Remove from heat, and beat the frosting with an electric mixer for 6-8 minutes, until lightened in color and thickened to a spreading consistency. The frosting should be completely cool at this point. Frost the cake immediately, before the frosting forms a crust.
Place one cake on serving tray. Spread the cooled apple mixture over the cake in an even layer. Top with the remaining cake layer. Spread the frosting over the cake quickly, as a crust will form as it cools.