I went and did it. I’ve broken every one of my seasonal rules that keep me from getting to far ahead of myself (or like I will be in early to mid November) too excited about the upcoming season and events. I have rules about not changing the candles in the house from sunshine and buttercups to pumpkins and leaves. Rules about not wearing boots and making sure to get every moment of flip flop wearing weather in. Rules about not decorating, not fantasizing, certainly not shopping, and not cooking out of season.
But I went and did it. The first whiff of ‘autumn orgasm’ from those wretched scent stores drug me in, the over abundance of apples and squashes at the market called to me, and the abnormal rainy, cold or otherwise gray weather for my area just sent it all over the top.
Plug-ins were changed, soaps stashed until next spring, cute flats brought out and dusted off (still holding out for the boots), candy corn on the counter and worst of all autumn like baking was being had.
This isn’t a huge deal, as by the time I post this it will only be a few more days until the official start of fall, but to be honest, I was saving it because I baked it a while ago…. Shame on me.
Caramel Apple Cake
from Food Network Magazine
For the Caramel and Apples:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 large Golden Delicious apples (1 3/4 to 2 pounds)
For the Batter:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
Butter a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan. Make the caramel: Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber, 7 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute. Pour 1 1/2 cups caramel into a glass measuring cup and set aside. Pour the remaining caramel into the prepared pan and set aside until set, about 30 minutes.
Cut 3 apples into quarters and cut out the cores with a paring knife. Arrange the pieces skin-side down in the pan (overlapping them slightly) to form a ring about 1/2 inch from the edge. Save any pieces that do not fit for later.
Halve the remaining whole apple crosswise. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or measuring spoon, leaving the stem on the top half. Chop the bottom and any of the leftover quartered apples into pieces; set aside.
Arrange the apple top, stem-side down, in the center of the pan. If the quartered apples shift, just push them back into place.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, orange juice and vanilla.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Slip them into the mixer bowl, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 5 more minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula.
With the mixer on low speed, add half of the sour cream mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Repeat. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula; finish combining the batter by hand.
Spread the batter over the apples in the pan. Top with the chopped apple. Bake on the middle oven rack until the cake is brown on top and springs back when pressed, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes (don’t worry if the top is dark). Cool in the pan on a rack.
Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a skillet wide enough to hold the cake pan. Carefully run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan several times, then rest the pan in the water to soften the caramel, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and dry.
Invert a plate on top of the cake, then flip over the cake and plate*. Using pot holders or a towel, wriggle the pan off. Soften the reserved 1 1/2 cups caramel in the microwave, about 2 minutes. Drizzle the cake with some of the caramel. Slice and serve with the rest.
*In case you may not have noticed, this cake – with all of its caramel greatness – was a bit of a hot mess for me. I recommend using a plate with a slight dome in the center, not a flat cake plate to catch all of the caramel gooeyness and save yourself some bitching clean up. Or you can live life on the edge like me.