It’s no secret, I love Christmas. The last few years they haven’t been quite up to par like normal, but I still love Christmas none the less. Now… I am a true summer girl. But… I love Christmas. I’ve posted quite a few times on Facebook about X number of days until Christmas or X number Monday’s or better yet, It’s August, can I put up my tree yet? I’m only partially joking. In previous years I listened to Christmas music all year long… I’ve kind of broken that habit.
Then I saw another post I shared on Facebook last week that said, does anyone else feel like June and July flew by in like 5 seconds, or something like that… That’s basically the gist of it anyway. And then… I got accused of wishing them away because I love Christmas. Touché… We are none-the-less in August. The commercials are going CRAZY about back to school shopping. CRAZY right? Didn’t the kiddos just get out of school? Tbug starts back the 15th and Abug starts pre-school after Labor Day. Holy crap! Let’s not think about the pre-school thing. It makes me want to burst out crying.
Anyway… Another thing that comes with August is apples. Okay, okay, that’s a fall thing but hello, you give teacher’s apples, right? So for Dive Club Meeting last week I made a Caramel Apple Cake (and German Chocolate Cake Cookies, yum!). Yum! By the way, do you pronounce it Care-a-mel or carmal? I typically go the latter.
Caramel Apple Cake
I was sooooo looking forward to this cake. It sounded AMAZING. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of caramel either… but it still just sounded amazing. I went to the store in search of McIntosh apples. No such luck. So I used a combination of Granny Smith which are always good for baking and Honeycrisp.
Did you know the Honeycrisp is an apple variety that was cultivated by Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station’s Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities? It is an ideal raw eaten apple because of its sweetness, firmness, and tartness. They say you should learn something new every day. I’m just trying to help you today :).
So the first thing you do is saute the apples in butter. It’s gotta be good, right? I used Gemma’s trick and sauteed them in salted butter. Then you start working on the cake. The cake itself is a spice cake. Yum, right? I love a good spice cake. Reminds me of fall. And while I could take or leave fall, fall comes right before Christmas. haha. Ok, I’ll stop with the Christmas… for now.
Everything was going great until the cakes… “turned out of the pan”… Look at those. How sad are they? They were flat, but the edges. OMG, I thought I was going to scream. Sigh! I did this cake in two different days. I did the cakes one day and the icing/decorating the next. So I wasn’t sure if I was going to scrap these cakes or just what I was going to do. In the end, I really wanted to see what happened, so I went with it.
I’ve been wanting to try a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The funny thing is, I have actually tried it in the past, I guess I just forgot or didn’t realize it… one or the other. They wanted stiff peaks with the egg whites… I’m pretty sure I got that. Yey :).
Now, this was a cinnamon spiced buttercream. That makes it even better, right? 2 cups of butter, right… why not half salted and half unsalted.
The Caramel Drizzle
Then it was time to make a caramel drizzle. Note: I would wait to make this until you put the cake in the fridge/freezer to firm up, otherwise you have to reheat it and that just makes a big mess. If you don’t let it cool just a smidge after you rewarm it, then it melts the icing off the cake. Learn from my mistake!
Here’s where I decided to possibly meet my fate. ha! I wasn’t sure if it would work or not. So I just went for it. A layer of cake, a layer of icing, a layer of cake, a layer of icing, a layer of cake, then a crumb coat.
Put the cake with the crumb coat in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up, then ice that sucker. Guys, look how beautiful that turned out. For those sad looking cakes above, look how beautiful this turned out. Yes, I was happy!
After you get the icing on the cake, back into the fridge it goes. This is where I’d make the caramel drizzle. Then drizzle n the cake. Mine was a little too warm and melted the icing. #fail. Finish off with the remaining icing. I used a large star tip.
- For the cake:
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. salted butter, separated
- 1 Granny Smith Apple
- 1 Honeycrisp Apple
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- For the frosting
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- For the caramel drizzle:
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. corn syrup
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- In a saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the diced apples and saute 8-10 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 3 8″ cake pans with parchment paper and then cooking spray.
- Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat together with the paddle attachment for 4 minutes, until creamy and well mixed. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and needed.
- Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl well after each addition.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Beat in vanilla.
- Fold the cooked apples into the cake batter.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the three cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to finish cooling.
- For the icing: Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the sugar is melted into the egg whites and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160˚F).
- Place bowl on the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Remove the whisk attachment and add the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time until all 2 cups are fully incorporated.
- Increase speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat the egg whites/butter until the icing comes together and is silky smooth. Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Beat until combined. Then reduce the mixer to low and beat out any air bubbles.
- To assemble the cake: level your cakes if necessary. Place one layer of the cakes on your cake board and spread a layer of icing on the cake. Place the second layer of cake on the first and add icing. Place last layer on top and coat in a crumb coating. Then place the cake in the refrigerator (or freezer) for 15 minutes to allow crumb coating to set up.
- Pull cake out of the refrigerator and add a coat of icing on the cake. Use a cake leveler or offset spatula to smooth icing. Place cake back in the refrigerator (or freezer) for 30 minutes to allow the icing to set up.
- Meanwhile, while the cake is chilling in the refrigerator, make the caramel drizzle.
- For the Caramel drizzle: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Increase the stove temperature to high. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring often until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is no longer grainy about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and carefully whisk in the heavy whipping cream. Continue to simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring often. The mixture will thicken as it cooks, but most of the thickening happens after you pull it from the heat and allow it to cool.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Transfer to a bowl to sit and cool and thicken.
- Once the cake is chilled and the icing is firm, slowly pour the caramel drizzle over the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula, slowly push the caramel drizzle off the sides of the cake to cream running layers. The cold cake will help the caramel drizzle set up.
- Use the reaming icing in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to decorate the top.
- Serve the cake at room temperature. Enjoy!
adapted from The Whole Bite