Caramel Apple Cake
Yield: one 8-inch, 3-layer cake
Ingredients for the Apple Cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 ½ cups [3 sticks] unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
2 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups homemade applesauce [recipe follows]
Ingredients for the Caramel Butter Cream:
1 ½ cups sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups [3 sticks] unsalted butter, soft but cook, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoon Classic Caramel Sauce at room temperature [recipe follows]
Preparation for the Apple Cake:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment the 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 fitted 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 eggs 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 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack over 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let completely
Preparation for the Caramel Buttercream:
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 stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce 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 ⅓ cup 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 the proper consistency. If the frosting is to firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and evenly spread about 1 ¼ cups of frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, and then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. This is known as crumb coating and will help to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake. Frost the sides and top with remaining frosting. Drizzle on a few swirls of caramel and refrigerate the finish cake for 15 minutes to firm it up before serving.
This cake will keep beautifully in a cake server at room temperature for up to three days, as long as the weather is cool and humidity free. Otherwise, place the cake in cake server and refrigerate for up to three days. Let a chilled cake sit at room temperature for at least two hours before serving.
The basic recipe is to peel and cut apples and place them in a medium saucepan with a small amount (maybe a ⅓ cup) apple cider, ground cinnamon to taste, and a tiny bit dark brown sugar [optional]. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 30 minutes. Uncover and mash as you would potatoes.
Classic Caramel Sauce
Ingredients for the Caramel Sauce:
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
½ cup [1 stick] butter, softened, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 ½ cups heavy cream
Preparation of the Caramel Sauce:
In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with ½ cup water. Stir the mixture gently so that 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 the heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once begins to churn a rich caramel color (if you don’t want to eyeball it, take the caramel to 300°F on a candy thermometer), remove from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.
You can save the caramel sauce, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week. Let it come to room temperature before using it on cakes, ice cream, or quick breads.
If you want a warm topping, heat the caramel sauce in short bursts in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler.
Excerpted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2010 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.