Friday, March 25, 2011

Peter Peter apple eater!

Happy Birthday to my pal, Peter.  Peter is an amazing friend to both my boyfriend, Jim, and I so that is reason enough for him to deserve a special cake on his birthday. This may seem like an odd cake for a birthday because it's not very fancy or have 3 layers and a ton of frosting, but it's a cake I'm sure Peter will enjoy. He has a love for apple flavored things and cinnamon ice cream and he even loves apple flavored liquor. Yup. So, that is why this is the best cake I could think of for our wonderful friend on his birthday. In my opinion anyways.

For this cake I had to toast my nuts.  I'd never toasted nuts before and apparently I've been making a giant mistake my entire baking life, so for about 3 years.  Toasting nuts brings out their natural oil and heightens their nutty flavor. All you have to do is spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet and put them in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.  They should be golden brown color when they are done. Oh, and they smell amazing.

Apple Spice Cake:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
4 cups peeled, cored and chopped Granny Smith apples (2 to 3 apples)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 10-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  Add the granulated sugar and butter to the flower mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter is fully incorporated and into the dry ingredients.  Periodically scrape the sides of the bowl during the mixing process.  Add the eggs and mix on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated.  Then, turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for about 1 minute, or until the batter is light and fluffy. 

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples, raisins, and pecans.  The batter will be very stiff and thick. It will look like too many apples but it's not. Scrape all of the batter into the prepared pan, then spread it evenly to fill the pan.

Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cake feels firm when you press it in the middle and the top is dark golden brown.  Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Invert the cake onto a serving plate, lifting away the pan, and then invert the cake again so it is right-side up.

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl until just combined. Don't whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth. Frost lightly on top with cream cheese frosting.  This cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

I learned a few things while making this cake. You really do have to make sure your oven temperature is correct. Ours was off by almost 30 degrees and it browned the cake very quickly. Also, don't use a spray instead of buttering the pan. The outside of the cake turns out so much better if you use real butter to grease the pan and then sprinkle the pan with flour so its all covered and then shake the extra flour off. It's worth the extra time it takes. I actually had to make this cake twice.  The second time it came out just right. It had to be perfect for Peter's birthday! I learned a lot of lessons though, so it was totally worth it. Happy baking....

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