Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing

Rebecca Rather doesn't mess around.  She takes her desserts very seriously, no joke.  Just look at this cake.  You see the title, and you probably think "Oh, ok, another apple cake."  But wait - this cake is 3 9-inch cakes.  Full of fresh apple flavor, fall spices, and enough butter to make Paula Dean's head spin.  Then, its iced with mascarpone buttercream that's swirled with caramel, topped with even more caramel, and adorned with pecans.  And no joke, I think it weighs 5 pounds.  I'm most certainly not one to shy away from eating rich desserts.  When someone puts down their fork and says they can't finish a dessert because its so rich, I make fun of them in my head.  But well, I was one of those people with this cake.  I'm ashamed (or proud?) to admit that I couldn't even finish a tiny sliver.  Never mind that I had already eaten pumpkin pot pie, rolls, salad, and snacked on cheese and crackers all afternoon.  I always make room for dessert, but I just didn't have it in me to finish this cake.  Its that rich.

I was really excited and nervous to make this cake, because I haven't had very much practice with layer cakes.  Cupcakes I've got down, but I always feel like my cakes are crooked, or domed, or not iced very well, etc.  The nice things about this cake are that you don't have to worry about slicing perfect layers.  Each layer is a cake.  Also, Most of the icing is covered, either by pecans or caramel.  So a "rustic" icing job will do just fine.  It came together fairly quickly, and while I had to make a little extra icing to finish the detail work, I was pretty generous while filling the layers and icing the top.

While most people have been obsessed with pumpkin (okay, myself included), I've really enjoyed baking and cooking with apples and pears this fall.  And if you can't get enough - check out the Featured Recipes Page.  I've updated it with some great apple-ly recipes to try this fall.

One Year Ago:  Vidalia Onion and Gruyere Tart 

Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing
barely adapted from Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen Christmas
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbs molasses
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled and shredded (1 1/2-2 cups)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs fresh minced ginger (optional)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups caramel 
  • 3 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
  • 2 cups pecan pieces, toasted (optional)
Place one oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and place a second in the top third.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease 3 9-inch cake pans, then line each one with a parchment paper round and grease the rounds.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the molasses, and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl.  Add the eggs one at at a time, beating well after each egg.  In a medium bowl, sift together the four, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.  Add the sour cream and flour mixture alternately to the batter, starting and ending with the flour mixture (flour in 3 increments, sour cream in 2 increments).  Stir in the shredded apples, vanilla, and fresh ginger.

The batter will be thick, so use a spoon to transfer evenly into the three pans (I actually used my kitchen scale to make sure I had even layers - anal much?).  Place 2 of the pans side by side on one rack, and the third on the other rack.  Make sure they are staggered so that no layer is directly under or above another.  Bake 35-40 minutes, rearranging the layers about halfway through, until firm to the touch.  Monitor the layers carefully, as they may be ready at different times.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges and carefully unmold the cakes to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, cream the butter on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale.  Add the powdered sugar over low speed until combined, then add the cream and vanilla.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the mascarpone and beat over low speed just until combined - it may seperate and curdle if its overbeaten.

Reserve about 1/4-1/3 cup of the caramel, then stir the remaining caramel into the frosting, using large strokes to create swirls throughout.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate or decorating stand, and spread a layer of icing on top.  Top with the second cake, then repeat with more icing, then the final layer.  Cover the cake with an even layer of frosting.  Pat (or fling) the toasted pecans onto the sides of the cake, then decorate the top as you desire.  Drizzle the remaining caramel over the top.


Ginny said...

Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Send me a slice!!!

Courtney said...

Looks delicious! And you're right, pumpkin seems to be taking over (I even made pumpkin muffins the other day!). It's refreshing to see another type of fall dessert! :) said...

This looks stupendous :-) not so stupendous for my hips though :-)

Jennifer said...

Stunning cake! It screams Fall!

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Looks like you had great success with this gorgeous layer cake. The apples & sour cream in there sound wonderful - -topped with all that caramel it is truly dreamy :)

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing and it sounds pretty great too! it's on my fall baking queue for sure :)

Jane said...

Wow! This cake really is very beautiful. You did a fabulous job despite your initial nerves. I can't imagine how you could have made it any more perfect. Lovely blog you have!

Nicole @ OrWhateverYouDo said...

This looks amazing. I can't wait to try it!

Jenn said...

That's funny you say you haven't had much practice with layer cakes, because this cake looks amazing! That frosting looks delicious.

Jazz Rules said...

That is some great detail on your decorating! I always wanted to decorate cakes growing up.

fériel said...

Waooow it's so beautiful !!

Lynn said...

yum!! looks amazing!

the blissful baker said...

beautiful cake! i want a slice right NOW :)

Lisa said...

This cake sounds delicious and I love the idea of topping it with caramel. I would love to make this one for my family.

Erin said...

As a fellow Pastry Queen lover, I bookmarked this cake pretty much as soon as I saw it. It's been a while since I looked through her Christmas book, so thanks for the reminder that I need to make it soon now that apples are in season. It looks beautiful!

oneordinaryday said...

Wow - just wonderful. I especially love that frosting and can't wait for a reason to make it.

Eliana said...

This is one mighty fine lookin cake! Wish I had a big slice of it right now.

Jami said...

You had me at Caramel Swirl Icing. yes, please!

Allie said...

I'd love to post this on this months Sugar High Friday's round up if you're interested. See for details.

eatme_delicious said...

Wow you did an amazing job with this cake!! It looks so insanely good.

Rachel said...

Mmm my grandpa asked for an apple cake for his birthday but all the ones I could find were just boring breakfast-type cakes. Until this! :) It's gorgeous and definitely birthday cake worthy.

I'm positive he's gonna love it; let's just hope mine turns out as gorgeous as yours!!

Anonymous said...

Looks the caramel an ice cream topping or do we make our own? I'd love to me this for thanksgiving!!

Josie said...

You could do either. I don't remember which one I did here, but I think either way would be fine. I hope you enjoy it! :-)

Anonymous said...

looks delish!!! can you put any kind of nut for the sides? or do you think it tastes better with walnut?

Josie said...

This actually calls for pecans. I don't know that I'd use any nut, but I'd think that pecans, walnuts, or maybe even almonds would all be great.

Unknown said...

I love, love, love this recipe! I've been searching for new things to try this fall, and this is definitely going on my list. BTW, I originally found it through Pinterest. Isn't it great when people pin your recipes? : )

Anonymous said...

Is it too much batter to make this in a Bundt pan?

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