Monday, October 28, 2013

Apple Cake with Brown-Sugar Frosting

I love autumn. Crisp air, colorful leaves that crunch when I walk through them, cozy sweaters, frost in the early morning, the approaching holidays…everything about this season makes me smile and sigh with contentment. Best of all, I enjoy biting into a crunchy, juicy fall apple fresh from the tree.

When I saw this recipe for Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting on the King Arthur Flour Company website, I knew I had to make it. So while I was at my parent’s house, I grabbed their bag of Jonathan apples and gave the recipe a go.

The cake was a hit! I love the brown-sugar frosting, which reminds me of the caramel frosting on my Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake. The cake was very moist and stayed that way for a couple of days until it was eaten. The recipe would make a great coffee cake by just leaving off the frosting, though my dad and I had no trouble eating it for breakfast with frosting. (In many ways, I’m my father’s daughter.)

However, this recipe was very sweet, so next time I think I’ll make it with tart Granny Smith apples instead. The recipe comments on the website contain suggestions from other cooks on how they reduced the sweetness, but I think using a tart apple would be a good start.

Thank you for all the good wishes for my family from my last post. My dad was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer, so I went to stay with my parents as he went through his first chemo treatment. So far he is doing well, considering, and the prognosis is very good.

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting
Recipe reprinted with permission from the King Arthur Flour Company’s website.

2 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour (I used all-purpose flour.)
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples
1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans (I used un-toasted pecans and they tasted great.)

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla-butternut flavor (I used vanilla.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9” x 13” pan.
  2. To make the cake: Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl.
  3. Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly.
  4. Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.
  5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.
  6. Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don't remove the cake from the pan.
  8. To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts.
  9.  Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.
  10.  After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners' sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

Tips from the King Arthur bakers:

  • To toast nuts, place them in a single layer in a cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 9 minutes, until they're golden brown and smell "toasty."
  • To guarantee lump-free frosting, sift confectioners' sugar before adding to the butter mixture. Usually all the lumps disappear as you beat the frosting; but to guarantee no lumps at all, sift the sugar first.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top 10 Recipes for Autumn

I’m spending some time at my parent’s house helping with a family illness, so I’m afraid a new blog post will have to wait. However, here are the top 10 posts on my blog from September. All of these recipes will come in handy at this time of year.

10.  Marion Cunningham’s Crustless Coconut Custard Pie: An easy dessert for the upcoming holidays.

9.   Slow-Cooker Meatloaf: After a busy day of work, school, or pumpkin picking, this makes an easy and delicious meal for the end of the day.

8.  Ghoulish Halloween Treats: Features the gross-but-delicious litter box cake.

7.  Overnight Oatmeal Yogurt: A tasty, healthy and easy way to start the day.

6. Conquering Pie Crust Phobia: Autumn is pie season, right? Or a lot of readers are getting ready for the holidays.

5. Pressure Cooker Pulled-Pork: Terrific football food!

4. Ina Garten’s Chicken Piccata: Another delicious dish that makes an easy week-night dinner.

3.  Home-Canned Tomato Sauce: A great way to save a summer flavor for the rest of the year.

2.  Grandma’s Noodles: Soul-warming dish for the cooler months.

1.  Old Fashioned Caramel Cake: This dessert has been a hit ever since I posted it last March. No surprise—it’s a delicious cake!