October 09, 2011

Fluffy Toffee Apple Cake

What do you think of when you think of autumn in the baking kitchen? Apples is the top of my list – and as it is nearly Halloween and (Canadian thanksgiving for me) Toffee Apples is something that always associates - so here is a fluffy Toffee Apple Cake I pieced together thanks to Ruth. Ruth from  thepinkwhisk.co.uk  set a challenge on coming up with an apple recipe... it was well worth the challenge! 
Here is a list of all of the entries  (including mine!) on Ruth's blog
If you LOVE being in the kitchen and doing things in stages then you may just love this. There are several steps as unfortunately  (or fortunately for me I should say) I had something in my head as to flavour and texture of what I wanted but couldn't find a recipe so therefore I had to do a bit of hunting and lots of tweaking to come up with this lovely autumnal treat.

If you want to whip something up in a hurry…this isn't the cake I'm afraid but luckily the steps allow you to save time by prepping ahead. Just make the cake the day you need it but everything else can be made a day or two or three in advance. 
250g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla
150g butter, melted
225g Cider Apple Butter * see below
190 g peeled, chopped apples (I am using pink lady apples)
90g light brown sugar
1 tbsp plain Flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
30 g butter or margarine
60 g finely chopped pecans, toasted
Fluffy Toffee Frosting
250ml double cream
300g light brown sugar 
½ tsp baking soda
115g butter
Chopped toasted pecans

Cinder Apple Butter
600g   apples  (about 4 med sized – pink ladies or apples from your garden)
100ml  apple cider  (or cloudy apple juice) *not alcoholic!
375g  brown sugar  
zest of ¼ lemon (about a tsp)
zest of ½ orange (about a tsp)  
½ lemon Juice (one generous squeeze)
½ orange Juice (one generous squeeze)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. grated/ground cloves
1/8 tsp. grated/ground nutmeg

If you want to make ahead of time I suggest making the apple butter anywhere from a day to a week in advance (keep in a steralised jar in the fridge) * you could just use a store bought jar of apple butter if yo can find it – Pilsbury’s suggest Smucker's®  (America only probably but you can find on amazon and ebay) 

Then make the frosting (it takes 1.5hours to cool plus about 20min to make so this can be done the day before or before the cake on the day so that you don’t have to wait around patiently)

Then make the filling (again this could be made up to a day ahead kept sealed)

Then make the cake

The Apple Butter
Contrary to the name there is no butter in this. The final product is a nice jam/butter like texture.

Core and quarter apples, but do not peel.
Place in heavy bottomed pot with apple cider/juice.
Cook covered on low heat for about 15-20min until very soft  - make sure it does not burn!
Keep covered – if you keep peeking the juices will evaporate and you will end up with burnt apples.

Put the cooked apple mix into a hand blender/blitzer and blitz well (2min at least) as you want all of the goodness of the apple peels in your final butter! 
Press cooked apple through a sieve  and you should get a little over  1cup  (250ml) of apple pulp. (don’t worry if it is a bit more or less as you are going to top it up with sugar to taste!)

Add ½ cup of brown sugar (a little more if you had more than one cup of pulp (guide is to allow 1/2 cup brown sugar for every 1 cup of pulp) Give it a really good mix –it should now look like brown sugar caramel!  Now return it to the pan.

Stir in lemon and orange peel and juice, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.

Cook covered on low for about 30-35 minutes–it will start getting thick after 10min and it just gets richer and richer. Again keep watch - make sure it doesn’t burn!  Makes about 1 cup.
If you are making in advance (or increasing the quantities to save for later, pour directly into sterilised jars when mixture still hot)

The Spiced Apple Butter Cake
HEAT oven to 180deg celcius (non fan) 170deg fan oven

Grease with veg oil or spray & Line with baking parchment  one 8.5” (22cm)  round springform tin
(if you use a larger tin you will get a shorter cake which means thinner layers)

BEAT all of the cake ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed just until blended, about 2 minutes. Spread batter in prepared pan.

BAKE 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Place cake on serving plate. Once completely cooled slice cake in two equal halves – a top and a bottom.
Add all filling ingredients except pecans in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until apples are tender. (make sure you watch it – I burnt my first lot by looking away for a minute)
Stir in toasted pecans. (see tip)

Reserve 2tbsp of the cream (set aside)
In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and remaining cream to a rolling 
boil (watch like a hawk!)
        Boil for one minute. Add soda, and boil one more minute it will start to grow -  if you have made honeycomb or almond rocca before this is what it will resemble when baking. Timings are important – you need to ensure the sugar is dissolved – but you can not stir it.
Remove from heat.

Add butter, but do not stir yet. Do not be tempted to stick your finger in for a little taste – it is hot!
Let the mixture cool. You need to be patient. If you are too hasty this frosting
will turn into a runny glaze and not the light and fluffy texture we are after.

Make sure you do not stir as tempting as it might be – stirring changes the
composition and sugar crystals will appear which you don’t want. If you have
room put the pan in the fridge once it is at a temperature where the pot won’t
melt your shelf! Cool in the fridge for at least 1-1/2 hours. It won’t look so pretty
and fluffy after this time but we are not finished yet!

After it has cooled, use a hand mixer and add in the reserved cream. Mix until nice and fluffy. The colour will change from dark to light.
Now after all of that hard work it’s time to assemble your cake
Layer the apple filling onto the bottom half of your cake. Carefully put the top of the cake back on.
Using a pallet knife or a spatula, lightly frost your cake. Sprinkle with chopped toasted pecans to finish.  No need to wait any longer… tuck in!

TIP To toast pecans: Place pecans in dry nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat, shaking pan until nuts are lightly browned.

Recipe Adapted from a number of different sourced recipes
Pilsbury  (cake idea & tweaked)
Epicurean (Apple Butter)
Chickensintheroad.com (Yellow cake mix)
Allrecipes.co.uk  (Fluffy Caramel Frosting tweaked and used suggestions from others in comments
Mary Berrys Baking Bible (American Apple Cake – tweaked)
and of course...inspiration again by Ruth at thepinkwhisk.co.uk and the Pink Whisk Challenge - October 

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