Margaux says . . .

I’m attracted to any cake recipe that has the word caramel in it.  I don’t know why, but I’m always searching for the elusive “perfect caramel cake.”  Actually, I do know why…one of my favorite local restaurants, Feed, had a caramel layer cake for dessert one night when we were there, and it was the best thing I think I’d ever tasted.  They haven’t had it since, and I’ve been trying to find a recipe that is similar to re-create it, but haven’t found it yet.   I realize that this cake is not caramel cake, but applesauce cake with caramel glaze, but it still piqued my interest because I also love apples in cake.  And I happened to have some homemade applesauce that needed to be used up very soon.  Desmond’s birthday was the week that I got this recipe in my weekly Food 52 email, so I decided to make it (even though his party wasn’t actually until the following weekend…but a kid has to have a cake on his actual birthday, too, right?).  It was delicious…very spicy, and moist.  I think next time I’ll make the glaze a little thicker, because most of mine rolled off, and it was wonderfully caramel-y, and a waste to see it fall to the foil underneath!  I used the full cup of powdered sugar, and might increase to a cup and a quarter next time.

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

After seeing Margaux’s post, I decided to make this cake for my book club get-together this month.  It is a Wow!!  The cake is very moist, not too sweet and my hunch is that the black pepper accentuates the other spices.  I could not get enough of it so I’m glad it was a bundt – plenty to go around.  I will also mention that I added more powdered sugar per Margaux’s suggestion.  It turned out to be a little more like frosting than glaze, but it was delicious and pretty.  I placed the cake directly on the serving plate before adding the frosting.  I heartily recommend this cake!

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

from Food 52 blog

Serves 10

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened (preferably homemade) applesauce
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the caramel glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs with both sugars until light. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.

2. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack before turning it out and cooling completely on the rack — make sure the cake is not at all warm before you make the glaze.

3. TheRunawaySpoon wisely advises that you put a piece of foil or paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips before you start the glaze. Put the butter in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute exactly, and then pull it off the heat.

4. Leave the pan to cool for a couple of minutes, and then gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until you have a thick, but pourable consistency (you may not need all the sugar). If the mixture seems too thick, just add a splash of cream to thin it out a little. Immediately pour the glaze over the cake, moving slowly and evenly to cover as much surface area as possible. Let the glaze set before serving the cake.

Note: If you’re serving this cake to demanding or hyper-observant guests (What? Did I say that?), you may want to glaze the cake right on the plate you plan to use to serve it, forgoing the rack. As soon the glaze has even the slightest chance to set, it will crack if you try to transfer the cake from rack to serving plate.

Margaux says…

I actually made this cake awhile ago, and am finally getting around to posting about it.  It was the first cold snap of the year, and I was really getting in the mood to bake fall-like things, but didn’t have a ton of time on my hands.  This spice cake was the perfect fix for my autumnal dessert yearning, and it was super easy to make.   Also, the ingredients are things that most cooks and bakers have around all of the time, so it’s a great cake for your spontaneous baking repertoire.   It’s perfectly spicy, and has a dense and moist texture.  The browned butter icing adds the perfect amount of sweetness.

Velvet Spice Cake
from The All New Joy of Cooking

Have all ingredients at room temperature, 68-70 degrees F. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one 9-inch tube pan or one 8-10 cup fluted tube or Bundt pan.

Sift together twice:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat until creamy, about 30 seconds:
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2-4 minutes:
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

Beat in one at a time:
3 large eggs
1 egg white

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with, in 2 parts:
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp yogurt or buttermilk

Mix until just incorporated, preferably by hand. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, or tap the sides of the fluted tube or Bundt pan against the counter to loosen the cake. Invert the cake, then let cool, right side up or inverted, on the rack.

Browned Butter Icing

6 tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, constantly swirl the pan over the heat until the butter becomes deep golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Scrape it into a bowl and beat until smooth and spreadable. Use immediately, while still warm, so that it will pour over the cake more easily.