Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

How many of you were lucky enough to trek to a nearby orchard and go apple picking?  The only picking I did was off the ground beneath my crabapple tree.  Gorgeous tree.  Love it.  But the apples are so tiny, and once you core them, there's really not that much apple left.  If I was not so lazy more industrious I guess I could have boiled a huge mess up and made applesauce or something.  But I said the same thing last year - that I'll do it this year - and my intentions are well meaning.  It's the follow-through that's a little lacking.

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
2 eggs
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. 


  1. Mmmmm ... will have to try this one although I don't have a cast iron pan. I like the fact that all the ingredients are things we have on hand. Your photos are so beautiful!

  2. This is exactly the sweet treat I crave in autumn! The cake looks fabulous and the salted caramel sauce is just too tempting. I would certainly enjoy it with a cup of tea.

  3. NN - thank you! While a cast iron pan is lovely, it's not necessary. The 9 inch square should work well too. Check out thrift stores or Canadian Tire for cast iron pans - well worth the search! Jess, I crave desserts like this too, and yes, this cake seems to taste even better with a cup of tea!

  4. I love the idea of using the cast iron! I'm trying that this weekend; I have a bunch of apples waiting to be used. Thanks!

  5. Salted caramel - I love you! Great post with gorgeous photos.

  6. looks so delicious renee. i recently made salted caramel sauce too and after dinner we'd spoon it off the jar just like that hahaha. too good!
    i think i need 4 more hours in the day too...but i doubt id put it to productive use >< likely to all go towards sleeeeping ;)

  7. This looks like a great dessert, absolutely delicious, yum. The photos are very beautiful.

  8. Reneé - I just found you via the feature on your blog over at Food Bloggers of Canada, and now I completely understand why you've been featured. Your blog is lovely and this Apple Cake is calling my name! I will definitely be back to visit!

  9. Anything with salted caramel in the title has me hooked.

  10. Lovely, lovely cake! Salted caramel sauce makes everything taste better, doesn't it? If you figure out how to get those extra hours, put in a good word for me too! I'd use mine just the same- there's never enough time to sleep and read and Lord knows there's always a project that needs doing.

  11. Jen, the cake baked up like a dream in the cast iron - go for it! Sara, I hear you on the salted caramel! Viv, I hear you on the 4 more hours of sleep! Lemon, thank you so much! Kels, I was so happy to be featured on the FBC website - quite the thrill! Happy you found me :) Bellini, too right! Shelley - thank you, and yes, salted caramel does make everything taste better.

  12. After our success with the first recipes we'd tried we gave this one a whirl too. My husband is a huge apple dessert fan so once again I was able to sucker, err I mean convince him to help out in the kitchen. I made the caramel sauce (which is actually way too good because you end up wanting to put it on everything!) and he mixed up the cake ingredients, which, except for trying to peel the apples after he started cutting them worked out beautifully (but hey, he knows for next time).

    It very much reminded me of an apple-y version of sticky toffee pudding which is easily one of my favourite desserts! YUM!

    For our dinner, we used your beef, fennel and asiago cheese recipe but instead of putting it into a zucchini boat I stuffed it into red peppers and it was just as yummy as the 1st time we'd tried it.

    Thanks again, Renee!

  13. Lori - what a fabulous dinner! So happy you are trying my recipes! Those stuffed peppers sound delicious. I absolutely adore sticky toffee pudding, and it will appear on this blog sometime in the future. Now that's a killer dessert!!!


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