Caramel Apple Cake

Before I start to explain how insanely tasty this cake is, I have a confession… this is not my own recipe.

In fact, it’s my future Mother-in-laws, and after tasting this cake a few weeks ago I knew I just had to share it with you (Ruth I hope I’ve done it justice!).

Unlike the usual ‘cream your butter and sugar together’ method, this recipe requires you to rub the butter into the flour, coating the flour proteins in a layer of fat. The ‘rubbing-in’ method makes it harder for water to get through, resulting in less gluten and a finer, more tender crumb. Trust me once you take your first bite you will know what I’m talking about.

I decided to drizzle the cake with homemade caramel, because well you know it’s November…bonfire night, toffee apples and all that, and also I wanted to practise my caramel making skills, or lack of! For some reason it always seems to crystallize for me, but not this time I think i’ve finally cracked it 🙂 Read on to see my top tips for beautifully smooth golden caramel.

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Ingredients (makes an 8inch round cake)

300g self-raising flour
2 tsps. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

150g unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
150g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temp
8 tbsps. milk
100g sultanas
250-300g Granny Smith Apples, peeled cored and chopped into small chunks

For the caramel drizzle

100g granulated sugar
2 tbsps. water
40g butter, at room temperate and cut into pieces
60g heavy cream, at room temperature

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and line an 20cm round cake tin with grease proof paper. I use cake liners for ease, which can be purchased from most large supermarkets.

Mix the flour, baking powder and the cinnamon together in a large bowl.

Add the chilled butter and rub it into the flour until it begins to look like fine breadcrumbs.

Now stir in the light brown sugar.

Add the egg and milk, and mix together until you reach a smooth, thick cake batter.

Fold in the apple and sultanas until coated in mixture.

Pour the mixture into your tin and bake in the center of the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the cake has browned on top and is springy to the touch. A skewer inserted into a centre should come out clean.

Leave on the side to cool whilst you make your caramel drizzle.

For the caramel drizzle*

Add the sugar and water to a medium-large sized saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until combined.

Leave the sugar to melt, do not stir the sugar. Simply swirl the saucepan until the sugar has melted and turns a light amber colour, similar to the picture below. Be patient, this can take a while!

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Carefully add the butter and whisk until all the butter has melted.

Now remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking constantly until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have smooth caramel.

Pour into a bowl and leave to cool and thicken for about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, drizzle the caramel over the cake.

*here are my top-tips for smooth, golden caramel – no lumps here! 

1. Use a medium-large saucepan so the sugar becomes thinly spread along the bottom. This is help the sugar to melt evenly and stop it from burning.

2. Make sure your saucepan and ultensils are completely dry and free from any debris.

3. Add a few spoons of water to the sugar before putting it on the heat. The water will help prevent crystallisation.

4. Resist the urge to stir the sugar as it melts. Simply swirl the saucepan to stop it from burning.

5. The cream and butter must be at room temperature before you add that them to the melted sugar, I would recommend getting them out the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start.

 

Frosted Walnut, Apple & Honey Cake

Deliciously moist sponge, jewelled with walnuts and apple and finished with a thick layer of creamy frosting and a scatter of chopped walnuts. Mmm this cake is awesome!

September is a great month for apples with 14 varieties ripening between early September and late October. So why not steal this apple opportunity to bake something? For this recipe I’ve used Granny Smith apples, as they are particularly sweet and juicy in September and lend themselves to baked goods. Cinnamon, vanilla and honey are added to complement the apple flavour and the chopped walnuts add a crunch throughout. Every bite tastes like Autumn!

I’ve coated the cake in sweet, tangy Cream Cheese Frosting; the ideal companion to any fruit or vegetable cake. Just be sure to remember that all the ingredients are at room temperature before mixing, there is nothing worse than split and grainy frosting – more about this in the recipe below. To finish I covered the top of the cake with chopped walnuts, however feel free to decorate however you wish.

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Ingredients (makes a 10inch cake)

For the cake:

190g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g self-raising flour
190g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, at room temp
1 tsp baking powder
50g plain yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1cm pieces
1 tbsp runny honey
100g walnuts, roughly chopped

For the frosting:

300g icing sugar, sifted
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g full-fat cream cheese e.g. Philadelphia, at room temperature

It is important to use full-fat cream cheese as the low fat options are too loose in texture and will result in a runny frosting.

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease a 10inch round cake tin with a little butter.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Break in the eggs one at a time*, mixing well before adding the next egg.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Add ½ of the dry ingredients into the batter and mix until fully combined. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients.

Now add the yoghurt, vanilla essence and honey and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Finally fold in 80g of the chopped walnuts and the chopped apple.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes and until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to completely cool before removing from the tin and transferring to a cooling rack.

To make your frosting, first beat the butter for a good 5 minutes until smooth and free from any lumps**.

Now drain of any excess liquid from the cream cheese and beat into the butter until just combined, be careful not to over beat. Sift in half the icing sugar and beat together. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat again until light, fluffy and pale in colour. If the frosting appears too runny then put the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm it up.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides of the cake and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up***. Take the cake out of the fridge and spread the remaining frosting all over the cake and finish by dotting the remaining 20g walnuts on top.

*Don’t worry if your mixture begins to curdle, it won’t affect the cake and once the dry ingredients are added the mixture will come together again.

**This step is crucial as it will soften and warm the butter sufficiently so it combines smoothly with the remaining ingredients.

***This is called a “crumb-coat” and will stop any crumbs from being pulled up when frosted again.