Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Caramel Apple Birthday Cake

My husband's birthday was last Wednesday. Originally he said he wanted a cookies and cream cake, but then after having cookies and cream cupcakes the Friday before he was sick of that combo. Since I got to taste the Caramel Apple Cake at the Baked Explorations class I convinced him to let me make it for his birthday.

I didn't have any time to bake it the weekend before his birthday so the process started Monday night around 8:30. The cake batter is pretty simple, and it smells amazing before you even put it in the oven. It has all of the spices of a pumpkin pie so it's definitely a perfect fall pie. There's a note in the recipe telling you how to make your own applesauce for it, but I just bought some. Unfortunately I didn't realize when I went to the store that it called for 4 cups so I only bought one jar and then had to go back when I started getting the ingredients out.

The applesauce and flour mixture go in last. I used the tip I learned in the Baked class about using a scoop to evenly distribute the batter between the 3 pans. I definitely need a bigger scoop because that seemed to take a while, but they were pretty even.

The only real problem I ran into with baking the cake was I didn't let it sit in the pan long enough because it was late and I really wanted to get to sleep. That ended up being a bad decision because one of the layers started to split down the middle. Oh, well. I figured I would just fix that with icing later and deal with it. I wrapped up the layers Tuesday morning before work.

Tuesday evening was busy. I had decided to make homemade cinnamon rolls in addition to the cake (another post to come on those). First up was the caramel for the icing because it was supposed to be room temperature for the icing. I was determined to not burn the caramel this time. I watched the temperature closely and also went by look. I even remembered that the heavy cream needed to be warmed up prior to adding it to the hot sugar mixture. But, I think I added the cream too quickly or my pot was too short and ended up with caramel boiling over the top of the pan, making a huge mess. I probably should have either started over or at least cut back on the amount of butter I added, but I didn't. It looked okay, but it was definitely very buttery flavored caramel. (Tastes good on vanilla ice cream though!)

Late that night I started on the rest of the icing. It starts out with a roux. The recipe says to whisk it occasionally, but I think I should have whisked a little more because some of the sugar and flour got stuck on the bottom of the pan.

Once the roux is done it goes in a mixing bowl and is mixed until it cools to room temperature. I forgot to strain mine, but it only affected the texture a little bit. And, then more butter goes in. Again, I should have cut back on the butter after the problematic caramel, but I didn't.

After finishing the icing the consistency wasn't quite right so I stuck in the fridge while I finished getting the cinnamon rolls ready. Then I got the cake iced. Despite the problem with the one layer splitting it didn't really cause too much of a problem while icing.

I decided to try to do the same design as the picture in the book. I used a piping bag with a small hole cut at the tip to put circles around the cake and then ran a toothpick from the center to the outside to complete the look. I guess it's not really a birthday design, but it looks cool. My husband really only cares about how it tastes anyway. :)

This cake was so, so moist! The icing was definitely a little buttery so I will have to try making it again because I know it should taste even better. Everyone at the birthday party enjoyed it. The main comment was on the moistness.


  1. OMG! Your cake looks sooooo yummy! Happy Birthday to your honey.

  2. Your cake looks amazing! I am exhausted just reading how you completed all of the steps in the evenings. Then you baked cinnamon rolls. Great job!

  3. What a beautiful cake. You can tell it's moist just looking at the picture of the slice. I like the (spider web) design on top. I think it came out great. Just like the book. Keep us posted on the changes you make to the frosting: how much butter can you lose and still have the frosting come out good.

    (dumb) question: instead of using scoops, why not just use your scale to make sure the batter for all three cakes is the same?

  4. Thanks everyone!

    Lola, those were a couple of very late nights for me, but it was worth it.

    Hanaa, I'll let you know what changes I make next time, or maybe my caramel and roux will turn out right and I won't have to change anything.

    Yes, I could use my scale. The guys from Baked said they don't like using a scale so that's why they use the scoops. I just wanted to give it a try. Plus, it required less thinking late at night. :)

  5. I made this cake last week when Matt and Renato had a book event at Omnivore Books in San francisco, and I tested quite a few of the recipes in the book for them, so I feel quite qualified to say that your cake is beautiful! You did a great job with the caramel spiderweb.I feel you on the caramel. I had problems with it too, but caramel is my baking Achilles heel.
    One thing I noticed is that (at least from the pictures) your cake is much lighter in color than mine. I wonder if it's the applesauce (I makde mine). Anyway, great job!

  6. Rachelino,thanks! I haven't had much luck with caramel yet, but I think I've only tried it 4 or 5 times now. I think it just takes more practice to figure out what works. My applesauce was pretty light colored so that may have had something to do with the color difference.

  7. Confession: Despite having made caramel many times, I still often have to make it twice to get it right. I find that if I rely on a thermometer instead of my eyes, unlike with sugar syrups for rose's cakes where it works fine, I tend to screw it up.

  8. So, I guess I should just plan in extra time and extra ingredients to make it twice.