I may have mentioned this before, but I love the fall. I love the leaves and pumpkins, the cool weather, and the holidays. While Thanksgiving may be my favorite, Halloween is still up there for me! It’s that magical time when pumpkins come to life, witches stop by your doorstep, and sweets run a-plenty! And boy do those sweets run a-plenty for me. From candy corn to cookies, from candy bars to cake, I love the sweets! So, when I found a recipe for Caramel Apple Cake, it just seemed to combine everything into one amazing dessert, and I had to try it!
Every year, as fall approaches, I pull out my old magazines and read through the October and November editions for inspiration. That’s right, I said I save my old magazines. Kind of crazy, I know, but I really do refer back quite a bit. My Martha Stewart Living goes back to February 1996…but I digress. This year, as I was perusing the old issues, I found this recipe from 2010 in the Food Network Magazine. I meant to try it but never did. So this year, I wasn’t going to miss out again! It’s a delicious, completely fall cake, with a rich, apple-caramel topping. It’s sweet and sticky, and just perfect!
To start, you need to make a caramel. Combine 3 cups sugar with 5 tablespoons light corn syrup in a large saute pan. Heat over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring, until it’s a dark amber color. The sugar will all melt, and it will bubble. Be careful, it’s hot!
Once it’s the right color, add 1 cup heavy cream and 4 tablespoons butter. You want to do this off the heat, and it will still splatter and bubble up when the cold cream hits the hot sugar. Just stir it and let it settle down before returning to the heat. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes until it’s all combined and smooth.
Once the caramel looks good, pour 1 1/2 cup into a glass measuring cup. The mixture is hot, so don’t use anything plastic. Pour the rest into a buttered 9 inch cake pan that has 3 inch sides. You need the sides because this is a high cake. I didn’t have a cake pan that was that high, so I used a spring form pan that was the right dimensions. Some of the caramel did leak in the oven, but I put it on a pan with parchment, so it really wasn’t bad. Let the caramel cool for about 30 minutes while you prepare the batter.
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon until combined. In a different small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup orange juice, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Set both of these aside, and take out your mixer.
Beat 1 cup butter, softened, with 1 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes. Then add 3 eggs, one at a time, and beat after they are added until the mixture is smooth and pale yellow. Probably another few minutes. Next, add half the sour cream mixture and beat on low till combined. Then add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined. Repeat both, and then use your spatula to scrape the sides and ensure everything is thoroughly mixed.
Now you can get your apples ready. I didn’t want to do this too early, because I didn’t want them to discolor. Get 4 large Golden Delicious apples. You don’t want to peel them. Take 3 of them, and cut into quarters. Cut in half first, then use a melon baller to remove the core, then cut in half again. For the remaining apple, cut it in half crosswise so you end up with the top and bottom of the apple. Use the melon baller again to remove the cores, and chop the bottom portion.
Arrange the apples over the caramel in a circular pattern, with the quarters going around the outside, and the top of the half going in the center, stem side down. You may have too many quarters, don’t worry, just use what you can. Next, pour the prepared batter over the apples, spread evenly, and top with the chopped apples.
Because I had a spring form pan, I wrapped it in foil, and I put it on a sheet pan, just in case it cooked over. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. You want the cake to be brown on top and spring back when pressed.
Let the cake cool in the pan, then fill a large skillet with 1 inch of water and heat until simmering. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake, then set the pan inside the skillet. This will soften the caramel after a few minutes. And, this works best if you have a cake pan, not my improvised spring form pan. Remove the pan from the water, and make sure it’s dry. Place a plate on top of the cake and flip. Remove the pan, then soften the remaining caramel you saved in the microwave and drizzle over the cake.
This cake really is delicious, and trust me, you won’t be able to contain yourself. It’s the perfect cake for fall, especially for Halloween!
Happy Halloween…I need to get my costume on! What are you being for Halloween this year???