December 2, 2010 § 2 Comments
I made this cake for Thanksgiving last year, and it has probably been the most discussed menu item from our Thanksgiving last year (with the possible exception of my sweet potato pucks, a.k.a., biscuits). It has been discussed so often, I had no option but to make it again this year. So, this cake was the first menu item that I planned for this year’s Thanksgiving. Despite this advance planning, we planned so many other menu items, that no one had any room for apple cake. Seriously! No one had any room! Who knew such a thing could happen at Thanksgiving? I do think this was partly my fault, as the other dessert I prepared was both generous and tasty and had a shorter shelf life than the cake, so everyone enjoyed that instead (it should also make an appearance on the blog one of these days). Amazingly, I was not sad that no one had any cake on Thanksgiving. Why? Mostly because this cake is the best thing to happen to breakfast since toasted bread. Seriously. A slice of this moist and crusty cake is the perfect way to start a morning sugar high to amp you up for holiday shopping. Somewhat miraculously, we were able to make this cake last a whole week, and I finally enjoyed the last piece this evening. It doesn’t disappoint after dinner either.
This recipe is from Lara Atkins and was published in Food&Wine. I follow her recipe pretty closely, although I did make some alterations in the suggested cake accessories. She recommends topping the cake with a toffee sauce and some carmelized apples. Although I love this toffee sauce (and I’ve previously discussed its use as the perfect dipping sauce for cinnamon-sugar doughdrops) and carmelized apples, this cake is very moist and a bit on the sweet side, so I found that adding more sugary toppings not really necessary. Instead, I whipped up some cinnamon cream that was not too sweet and found this to be a great complement.
Toffee apple cake
Yields 10-12 slices
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 3 medium Gala apples ( or other baking apples, such as 2 large Granny Smith apples)—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform tube pan. *
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and granulated sugar. Continue whisking and add the eggs one at a time.
4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Add the diced apples and fold in to the batter.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in to the cake comes out clean.
6. During the last 15 minutes of baking, prepare the toffee glaze for the cake. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and heavy cream. While stirring, bring to a boil.
7. Once the glaze has started to boil, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and let cook slightly. Do not take it out of the pan.
9. Place the cake in the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Poke the top of the cake with a toothpick and pour the hot glaze over the cake. Allow the glaze to seep in to the cake for at least two hours.
10. Release the cake from the pan, slice and serve with cinnamon whipped cream. The cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap.
*I did not have the best pan option for this and baked it in a 9-inch bundt pan. This worked ok, but I think a tube cake pan would work better.
Cinnamon whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix the cream, sugar and cinnamon at a moderate speed with the whisk attachment until the cream forms soft peaks. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
October 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
It was a rainy weekend here in the Bay Area. What better way to spend it than lounging in a comfy chair, drinking tea and watching the rain drip down the window? Sounds lovely, but somewhat sadly, that’s not how I spent my weekend. Even so, I still made some scones that would complete this little daydream of mine, and enjoyed them perfectly well on the go from one place to another. I used a variation of Martha Stewart’s scone recipe as a base, and then spiced it up a bit. Here’s what you need for these comforting fall treats:
- 3/4 cup peeled and diced apples (2 small or 1 large)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 6 tblsp granulated sugar
- 1 tblsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 8 tblsp chilled, unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup half-and half, plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, 5 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
4. Cut the chilled butter in to small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter in to the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.
5. Stir in 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon half-and-half until just moistened. Add the apples and mix until they are evenly distributed.
7. Using a dough scraper or sharp knife, cut the round in to 8 sections. Transfer the pieces to the lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining half-and-half. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
8. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack.
Notes on these scones: I think these turned out quite well, and there are very few changes I would consider making to the recipe. Some things I might tweak for next time would be to add more oats. Or maybe to incorporate a toasted oat topping, instead of the sugar crystals, just to highlight the oat flavor a tiny bit more. It might also be possible to get away with using less butter, but I didn’t want to risk it for this particular batch…maybe next time. Or maybe not.
September 27, 2010 § 2 Comments
Having grown up in New England, there is one delicious dough treat that I have been unable to find a replica of out west: fried dough. Fried dough is a country fair favorite in New England. My grandfather was a traveling shoe salesman; he would spend a lot time in the summer at local fairs, peddling shoes and socks, and we would go visit him. I don’t remember much about the fairs except for the barnyard smell, an occasional pony ride, and watching people try on shoes. Oh, and of course, the fried dough. The fried dough is essentially a round of dough, dropped in to a fryer, and then topped with either tomato sauce and parmesan cheese or cinnamon and sugar. Since we already had a savory version of the fried dough for our entrée, I made the sweet cinnamon sugar version for dessert. Here’s how I prepped the dough:
- leftover pizza dough (Friday night pizza dough)
- 3 tblsp unsalted melted butter, cooled slightly
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a dough scraper or sharp knife, separate a piece of dough and use your hands to roll it in to a length of dough about 6 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.
3. Form the dough in to a circle and wrap the two ends around each other. Dip each side of the dough in to the melted butter and place on a baking sheet.
4. Bake doughdrops at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until the dough appears slightly crusty on the outside. In the meantime, mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
5. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the doughdrops are golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
7. Brush both sides of the dough drop with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
8. Serve warm on their own or with your favorite dipping sauce (caramel, chocolate, or a fruit sauce… the options are endless!).
Although these were great on their own, I decided to whip up a rich, buttery caramel sauce for dipping. I adapted the recipe from a Food&Wine recipe that accompanied a caramel apple cake.
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 tblsp unsalted butter
Note before starting: Caramel can happen fast! Measure out the cream and butter and keep it next to the stove. It’s also a good idea to keep a pastry brush and a cup of water by your side as well.
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil over a medium heat. If sugar crystals start to form on the side of the pan, brush them down with a wet pastry brush.
2. Continue cooking without stirring until the mixture turns a medium brown. If you have a candy thermometer, this should read about 320 degrees F. (I wasn’t paying close enough attention and mine got to around 340 degrees F, slightly darker than I wanted, but still good enough.)
3. Remove from the heat and very carefully add the cream and butter. The caramel can bubble up rapidly here, but pouring slowly and mixing quickly will help eliminate any disasters.
4. Once the butter and cream have been incorporated, return to the heat and simmer gently for 2 minutes. The caramel should become smooth and creamy.
Serve warm or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Notes on the doughdrops: In my opinion, these are so tasty, they justify making pizza dough just for the sake of making them, skipping the pizza altogether. You can really make them in any shape with any type of flavoring. The teardrop shape of these is truly ideal for dipping: lots of surface area to cover with sauce, and a little handle on top for maintaining a good grip. The combination of warm butter and sugar and cinnamon creates a light crust on the dough, adding a little crunch, and perfect for absorbing more of the caramel sauce. Just try it. You won’t be sorry.