Caramel Apple Cake…Good Enough for Company

So last week we delved deep into the fridge, freezer and cupboards to use up that which has a tendency to sit around. This always feels like a low-rent take on Iron Chef. The secret ingredient is…pasta!

Meals included:

  • Oma’s Spaghetti Sauce reheated from the freezer with a 1/2 box of leftover spaghetti
  • Frozen enchiladas with the end of the box of quinoa boiled up with chicken bouillon cubes and mixed with roasted onions and fennel.
  • Hors d’oeuvres night when we served crackers and cucumbers with whipped cream cheese, smoked salmon and hummus.
  • And one night…French Lentil Soup with crispy leftover bacon and freshly baked Cheese Gougeres made from frozen dough.  And for dessert…Caramel Apple Cake.

Despite my predilection for things sweet, I usually don’t make dessert during the week. There is always something sweet to give to the kids and I, frankly, just don’t need it. I save most of my sinful eating (and drinking) for weekends and parties. But when I saw these shriveled apples sitting in my fruit bowl, I was suddenly struck with the urge to use everything and so this apple cake was born. I kind of had to make it right? right?

I searched the Interwebz for an appropriate recipe to start from and was surprised by the lack of variation in the recipes I found. I found many good looking cakes and all of them were basically the same. There were slight variations in amounts, but the ingredients were strikingly similar. I decided to wing it while leaning toward the slightly healthier versions with less oil and more apples. I made my choices and made one pretty delicious cake, but… I felt like it could be better.

Sooooo, the next week I made another one and tweaked the recipe just a bit more. The result was what I consider to be a guest-worthy apple cake.

Here is what I came up with…

Heather’s Leftover Apple Cake
Adapted from Various Sources

PRINT-FRIENDLY RECIPE

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples, about 1/4-1/2 inch dice (use sweet or sour cooking apples according to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup toasted nuts (optional)

GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

TO MAKE CAKE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Beat together the oil, apple sauce, eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, orange zest and juice and vanilla until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, toss the apples with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.  Add the flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the wet ingredients and mix just to combine. Fold in the sugared apples and raisins.

Pour into the bundt pan and bake until a tester comes out clean. About 75-80 minutes.

Just before the cake is done, make the glaze.

TO MAKE GLAZE

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the sugars and salt. Cook stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

When the cake comes out of the oven, skewer it several times while still in the pan. Make holes all over  with a fork or toothpick or I used a…skewer. You are making lots of holes to accept the sauce. Don’t worry about making the cake messy looking, the top will soon be the top.

Pour half of the glaze over the holey cake.

Let the cake sit for about 30 minutes. What you are looking for is that the glaze has been absorbed and has stiffened up enough that it no longer runs.

Turn out the cake onto a rack and glaze with the remaining caramel sauce (rewarm the sauce a bit if it no longer pours). I scooped up what dripped and reglazed the cake about 3-4 times to use up every delectable bit. Once the glaze has thoroughly stiffened up, transfer to your serving platter and serve.

This cake will keep covered for about 3 days at room temperature, but chances are it won’t last that long. It is great for breakfast, lunch, after school snack and dessert, so it goes quickly.

And here is one more thought. I also made this same cake as mini-cakes for a friend’s brunch.

I simply cooked them in a mini cupcake pan instead of a bundt. A half-portion of the batter made about 24 mini cakes. They cooked in about 1/3 of the time and I drenched the final cakes in the glaze. They were very tasty!

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