Sunday, November 14, 2021

Rosie Makes An Applesauce Spice Cake.

I've got a great fall dessert for you - applesauce spice cake with a caramel filling and cream cheese frosting.  Forget about the pumpkin pie and pecan pie for Thanksgiving.  This cake takes the best parts of the pies - the spices and the nuts - and combines them in one delicious dessert.  The warmth of the spices, the sweet richness of the caramel, and the creamy, slight tang of the icing all combine to balance for a flavorful finale.

For the applesauce:
3-4 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB water
2 TB sugar
pinch salt

Slice apples directly into a small pan with the lemon juice and water.  The acidity keeps the slices from browning.  Sprinkle sugar over the apples.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples cook down - about 30 minutes or so.  I like a few small chunks in my applesauce, not completely smooth, but cook it down however you like it.  Salt to taste.

I like a combination
of smooth and semi-chunky.

You're only going to need 3/4 cup for the cake, so refrigerate any leftover applesauce.
Save it for breakfast - scrambled eggs with cheese, buttered toast, and sausage.  And applesauce!

Now for the cake:

Applesauce Spice Cake

Cake layers: 
2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 TB cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
1 ¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup applesauce
4 eggs, room temperature
1 TB vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°.  Butter and flour 2 9-inch round baking pans.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and soda, and spices.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine brown sugar, oil, and applesauce until well-mixed, scraping down sides of bowl.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Add in half the flour mixture, on low speed, until just combined. See mixing note below.*  Blend in buttermilk, then add remaining flour.  Fold in nuts.

Divide mixture evenly among two prepared baking pans.  Bake at 350° about 28 minutes, or until toothpick comes out fairly clean.

Allow to cool in pans about 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

*Mixing note:  There’s a reason cake recipes instruct you to mix in flour until “just combined.”  It has to do with the development of gluten.  Basically, gluten is a protein found in wheat which, when mixed with liquid, forms a protein chain or network which gives structure to any baked goods.  For breads, you want to develop that protein network.  This is why you “knead” a bread dough.  For cakes, we want to avoid or limit gluten development in the batter.  This is why we gently fold flour into the batter.  You want to add the flour in 2 or 3 additions instead of all at once.   Adding all at once results in over-mixing and a denser, tougher cake. In order to get a soft, crumbly texture and a lighter, fluffier, melt-in-the-mouth feel, use a cut and fold motion with one hand while rotating the bowl with the other hand, mixing the flour in as few folds as possible. When no streaks of flour remain in the bowl, stop mixing.

  Caramel filling: 
In a small saucepan combine:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup cream

Cook over low heat until butter and sugar are melted.  Continue cooking at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Stir in 2-3 teaspoons vanilla.  Let cool and thicken.

Any leftover caramel is most excellent heated up and poured over ice cream.

 Cream Cheese Frosting: 
12 oz. cream cheese, softened (1 ½ pkgs)
1 ½   sticks butter, softened
4 cups+  confectioner’s sugar
1 TB vanilla
Beat cream cheese and butter.
Beat in sugar a little bit at a time, until you get proper spreading consistency.
Beat in vanilla until well-combined.
 To assemble: 
Set first cake layer on serving platter and cover with caramel filling.  Set second layer on top.  Secure layers, if needed, with toothpicks.  Slather top and sides with cream cheese frosting.  Press additional pecans into icing if desired.

 For the step-by-steps:

Mix dry ingredients - flour, baking soda and powder, and spices.

In bowl of mixer, combine brown sugar and oil and...

... applesauce.

I like a few chunkies in my applesauce.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Liquid mixture in the mixing bowl.
Flour and spices top right.
Buttermilk bottom right.

Add in half of the flour mixture.

Then all of the buttermilk.

Then the remaining flour mixture.

Mix flour until just barely combined and then ...

fold in nuts.

Pour into prepared pans.

And bake.  Let cool on rack.

Pour thickened caramel over first cake layer.

Place second layer on top and secure with toothpicks.
Then frost away!

Go slap happy with the spatula.

Give it some pecan lovin'.


This is just grand!

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