If you were around these parts for last week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, you may recall some apple-pickin’ shenanigans that resulted in a half-bushel of apples taking up residence in my kitchen. Yes, my friends, they are still with us. [looks guiltily in the direction of the kitchen, overflowing with apples] Fortunately I’ve had a few more opportunities to bake with them, including this week’s stellar recipe, Double Apple Bundt Cake.
This was actually the second apple bundt cake I’ve made in a week. The first was a variation on the Paris Hilton of internet apple cake recipes (surely that is a real category?), Mom’s Apple Cake from Smitten Kitchen. Friends, I was not impressed. That particular cake has garnered over 500 fawning comments but I think Dorie’s apple cake is much, much better. Maybe the Smitten Kitchen cake is not meant to be a bundt. I do not know. What I DO know is that I’m bummed I brought that cake to a potluck earlier this week instead of this other, far superior one! Superior, you say? Superior, indeed:
If you are wondering why my apple bundt cake looks drenched in deliciousness, it’s because I made a brown sugar frosting for it. You might think the cake is moist enough, tasty enough, flavorful enough, sweet enough on its own, and it does not need a brown sugar frosting. You would be wrong. Fact: there is no apple cake that cannot be improved by a brown sugar frosting.
Especially a frosting that is thick and fudgy, with caramelized brown sugar notes, a hint of vanilla and maple, and a punch of salt in every bite. No, really. Check out this salt:
I didn’t use salt in the frosting itself, but I sprinkled a large-grained sea salt liberally on top of the frosting. I wanted not just the flavor, but the texture of the salt to come through. I’m in love with this flaky sea salt and the way it pops in your mouth. I think a noticeable hit of salt is so necessary, especially in a dessert like this that could easily tip into the cloyingly sweet category.
I used my new favorite thing, Maldon Sea Salt. It’s a great all-purpose large-flake sea salt that is perfect for finishing dishes (salted caramels, anyone?) because it keeps its texture well and crunches in the mouth. It’s not wet (those moist sea salts creep me out) and it’s reasonably priced–I got mine for about $6 total from saltworks. (I have no relationship with them at all, I just thought it was a monster steal and I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!)
Another exciting product going into this cake?
Okay, so fresh nutmeg is not exactly breaking news. BUT did you know you can buy it super-cheap at Cost Plus? 99 cents for about 8 nutmegs! (…nutmeg nuts? nutmeg megs? nutmeg seed pods? What do you call those??) Thus concludes today’s Cheap Ingredient Shopping with Liz segment. Next week: vanilla pods on ebay!
So yes, if you were able to read between the lines of my product-bedazzled ramblings, this cake was phenomenal. I loved the way the grated apples melted into the cake, the extra apple kick from the apple butter, and the way it stayed so moist and flavorful day after day. It seems to keep getting better the longer it sits on the counter. I used plump dried cranberries and cinnamon pecans in the cake, and both of those were wonderful additions as well. I know I can sometimes be harsh on recipes (it’s only because I love!) but I truly can’t imagine improving on this.
The recipe will be posted on Lynne of Honey Muffin’s blog, and the brown sugar frosting recipe is below.
Double Apple Bundt Cake
- 2 cups AP flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup store-bought apple butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- to 10- inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. If your pan is not nonstick, dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess. (If yo’ve got a silicone Bundt pan, there’s no need to butter or flour it.) Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scarping the bowl as needed, for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth, thick and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition; you’ll have a light, fluffy batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter – don’t worry if it curdles the batter. Still on low, add the grated apples and mix to completely blend. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts. Turn the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with the rubber spatula.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a think knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding and cooling the cake to room temperature. If possible, once the cake is completely cool, wrap well in plastic and let it stand overnight at room temperature to ripen the flavors.
Top the cooled cake with brown sugar frosting.
Brown Sugar Frosting
Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s brown sugar frosting
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cream
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp maple extract
hefty pinch of salt
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. It might look separated, but that’s okay. Stir in the cream, and it should all come together. Bring the mixture to a boil, then pour it into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners’ sugar, salt, maple extract, and vanilla. Beat well–I beat for about 30-45 seconds. If the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar, if it’s too thick, add a spoonful of hot water. Be aware that it sets up QUICKLY. Pour it over the cake while it’s still warm. Know that it’s hard to go back and correct mistakes because it starts setting and crusting soon after being poured, so one option is to put it in a large Ziploc bag and cut off a corner. Pipe the frosting over the top so it drips down where you want it to. Sprinkle any toppings on right away.