September 24, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

I recently became a member of The Cake Slice Baker's. Once each month I will be baking along with the group as we tackle the chosen cake.  Then I will be posting about it on my blog. There will also be links to other members blogs so you can check out how everyone's cake turned out.  I just know it is going to be fun to be a part of a wonderful group of baker's and blogger's, and I can't wait to get started.

In the meantime I decided to bake the Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze that they all baked last month.  This recipe is by Nancie McDermott from her book, Southern Cakes.  My daughter is having a bake sale at school tomorrow and I thought there should be something to offer besides neon colored cupcakes, which seem to be all the rage at her school.  At least I know the teachers will be happy with what I made.

At first I was going to use some left over Fuji apples.  Then I remembered that I had some Ginger Gold apples, which I had never tried before, so I used them instead. After doing some research on these apples at the Produce Oasis, I found out that it is one of the first apples available in the fall and it does not store well. There is a slight taste of spice and it has a crisp white flesh that does not go brown too quickly after it has been cut, which worked out really well when I was prepping the ingredients. It also holds its shape well during cooking.  An interesting trivia fact about apples - "in ancient Greece, tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage; catching it was acceptance".

I did make some minor changes to the recipe after reading some of the reviews.  There seemed to be a few people mentioning the amount of oil so I cut it down to one cup and replaced the other half a cup with apple sauce. I also cut the sugar back to one cup of white sugar and half a cup of brown sugar.  The last change I made was adding a teaspoon of Baking Spice from Penzeys because I needed to use it before it gets stale and I like the taste of it in baked goods.  I try very hard not to let anything from Penzeys go stale because we don't have one here so it is hard to replenish my stock (shipping is a killer).

The smell of the cake cooking was incredible - apples, pecans, and baking spice = yum.  Once it was out of the oven, and I poured the glaze over the top, it took all my my willpower not to grab a fork and dig in. After it had cooled on the counter for a while I hid it in the refrigerator so it wouldn't tempt me.  Once it was cool I cut it into squares and packaged it for the bake sale.  I did try some of the crumbs and they were delicious.  There were a few smaller pieces so I decided to keep those to enjoy tonight with our coffee.  This recipe is definitely a keeper and I can't wait to bake another one.

Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
(adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour  
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda  
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Spice (from Penzeys)
  • 3 eggs  
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract  
  • 3 cups finely chopped apples  
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

Brown Sugar Glaze
  • 1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 tbsp evaporated milk, half-and-half or cream
  1. Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan or two 8-9 inch cake pans.In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir with a fork to mix everything together well.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wooden spoon or a mixer at low speed until pale yellow and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon and continue stirring the batter just until the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts, stir to mix them into the batter until fairly uniform. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes (start checking at 25 minutes if making a 1/3 recipe loaf) or until the cake is golden brown, springs back when touched lightly near the center and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Place the cake (still in the pans) on a wire rack and spoon over the glaze while still hot.
    Brown Sugar Glaze
    1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Then cook for 3-5 minutes.
    To Finish
    1. Spoon the hot glaze all over the hot-from-the-oven cake. Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving straight from the pan.

    Makes one 13x9 inch sheet cake or two 8-9inch round cakes (1/3 of a recipe makes one loaf pan)

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