Hot Apple Cake w/ Caramel Pecan Sauce
When I was a girl growing up in Michigan, every autumn in October we’d head off to the u-pick-it apple farms and pick apples. It was a Saturday adventure we all enoyed. After climbing trees and tossing apples gently to my younger brothers waiting below it was apple cider and donut time at the mill.
The cider was always just pressed the same day – often within a couple hours. It had the most amazingly sweet, pungent, apple-y flavor. The donuts were the cake style rather than raised. They were golden brown. Crispy outside, coated with cinnamon-sugar, tender inside and still warm from the fryer.
This cake reminds me of those once a year Saturdays from my childhood in the fall. It’s from a 1985 cookbook I’ve owned all these years titled, “The Dessert Lover’s Cookbook” by Marlene Sarosky. It simply wouldn’t be fall without making this dessert. The batter is buttery, cinnamon-y and it’s loaded with chopped apples. The Caramel Pecan Sauce and a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream make it sheer heaven. It’s not fancy to look at – but the flavors say pure autumn.
I made this cake two weeks ago and it was delicious but not very pretty. The middle was uncooked and it collapsed under the weight of all the moist apples. I realized my mistake. I used an 8-inch pan rather than a 9-inch pan. Most of the cake was cooked just fine. Only the center was uncooked
This time around I used a 9-inch pan. I also used something called “cake strips.” They’re long, thin strips of insulated fabric you soak in water. Then you wrap them around the outside perimeter of the cake pan before putting it in the oven. They force the cake to cook and rise evenly. No more cakes that are finished or even dry around the edges while still wet, uncooked batter in the middle. You can see the uniform result when I made this cake again yesterday with those changes.
I’m sorry I didn’t cut a slice for you to see and top it with the silky-sweet Caramel-Pecan Sauce and ice cream. Truth is the cake in the picture has been wrapped up and carefully placed in my freezer. I’ll pull it out and it’ll be one of the desserts for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s that good.
Here’s the recipe.
- 1/2-lb or 2 sticks of butter at room temperature
- 1 cup, granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups, all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon, nutmeg
- 1-1/2 teaspoons, cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon, baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans (walnuts work as well)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 quart vanilla bean ice cream for serving
Caramel Pecan Sauce
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in eggs on low speed one at a time, until well-blended. Put flour, spices, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and combine. Add to the wet ingredients and beat just until incorporated. Mix in the apples, nuts and vanilla.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove to rack and cool. Turn cake out of the pan onto rack after ten minutes.
To make the sauce: melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add nuts. Cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat until nuts are toasted and butter is lightly browned. Add brown sugar and cream and continue to cook stirring constantly until sauce boils, sugar dissolves and turns a deep golden brown. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.
To serve, place a wedge of warm cake on a dessert plate. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon hot Caramel Pecan Sauce over all.
NOTE: This recipe is very wet due to all the chopped apples. Go to a craft store like Joann’s, Michaels or a cake supply store to find cake strips. They are 2-inch wide strip of absorbent fabric. You soak them in a bowl of water while you’re getting the batter ready. When the cake pan is ready to go in the oven, wrap the outside of the cake pan with the cake strips. I learned about these when I made my own wedding cakes.