If only I had four more hours in the day. Two hours would go towards sleep, that's a given. 6:15 comes way too soon, and is highly unwelcome, and frankly makes me cranky. One hour would go towards reading. There's a small stack of beautiful books on the bedside table, sadly collecting dust. And the final hour would go towards all the stuff I say I'm going to do, but never get around to - like painting that spot in my bathroom, or refinishing that mirror, or knitting that rug I started a year ago. Stuff like that. Yes, I need four more hours in my day. Who do I talk to about that?
So the apples fell, and fell. There was a two week stretch where my entire backyard smelled like some sort of rank apple liqueur. Ah, rotting fruit. I gathered up the fallen lot and dumped them into my vegetable garden, where I'm sure they are rotting away in all of their happy glory. In the Spring they'll be churned up along with other compost material and their rotten glory will be mine! (Insert evil cackle here.)
While I didn't pick the apples for this cake, I did buy them from the farmer's market, where the very kind vendor has an organic orchard not too far from here. These are heirloom apples, and while I did write down the varieties, wouldn't you know I lost that slip of paper? I'll have to get back to you on that one. Delicious apples, these. Not too sweet, with a perfect crispness that tastes like Fall as soon as you bite into one.
I'm all crazy for anything baked in cast iron. Plus the cake is simple and crazy delicious. And really, it had me way back at salted caramel sauce. That's probably why you've been reading this post, isn't it? It's all about the salted caramel. Two perfect words.
Whether you're planning a fancy dinner party, or having old friends over for tea, this cake is simple, straightforward and can easily be whipped up in 15 minutes. The hardest part is peeling and chopping the apples, if that's any indicator of the skill level required. Moist, and not too sweet, with lovely chunks of apple and the heavenly aromatics of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, this cake is delicious warm, with ice cream, and of course the salted caramel. (I should also say that it's almost better cold, after some of the caramel has soaked into it overnight. That was a happy discovery!) Don't be afraid of making the caramel - there's nothing to it, and the rewards are so, so good. So good that you'll want to lick out the saucepan when no one is looking, and heck, even if anyone sees you they'll understand. It's salted caramel after all. It casts a spell; one I happily and willingly fall under.
Spiced Apple Cake
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter, cubed at room temp
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chopped, peeled apples, cut a few for slices for top of cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch square cake pan, or go all rustic like I did and grease a cast iron skillet. Baked like a dream.
In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light. Beat in the eggs, until all fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir this into the batter along with chopped apples. Spread into prepared pan. Top cake with a few apples slices in centre. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched or when toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm with salted caramel sauce, and ice cream, or whipped cream, if you like. Serves 6.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt (if using salted butter, decrease this amount a smidge)
1/2 cup 35% cream
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Cook 3 min. Stir in vanilla and salt until dissolved. Remove from heat, let stand 1 min, then whisk in cream until smooth. Makes one cup. Adapted from Chatelaine, October 2011.
for Peter G.