Caramel Apple Cake

I have made this cake twice now and each time it turned out really well. A soft and subtle caramel flavour is complimented beautifully with the crisp apple filling.

Caramel Apple

I was inspired to make this cake from a recipe I found on Tartlette . I thought, however, that the caramel cake alone may be too rich and that a fruit filling may break up the sweetness. I decided that crisp and tart apples are a fantastic flavour combination with caramel and it would make for a perfect accompaniment to the cake.  I am usually not that inventive with food and quite happy to follow a recipe but I was glad to adapt this one as the apple filling really did improve the cake.

When I first made this cake for a family barbeque with my new in-laws I was thrilled to hear that they loved it and even told me that it was one of the best caked they had ever eaten! Given its popularity I thought I would make it again for my Afternoon Tea Party and the ladies could not resist munching on the caramel shards.

Caramel Apple Cake

Overall it is a great cake and a real “must try” if you are a caramel lover, but I warn you: it is time-consuming and messy. Making the cake involves about six stages:

-          the caramel syrup

-          the cake

-          the icing

-          the filling

-          the caramel shards

-          the assembly

The first time I made it I and the kitchen were heavily wounded, mostly because making the caramel syrup creates a sugar volcano on your stove top. Once you put cold water into the hot syrup it bubbles, boils, splutters and simmers, eventually settling down to create a caramel liquid. I’ll admit all the activity really excited me as it was my first attempt at caramel but the clean-up that followed was intense.

For those of you who have made caramel you know it turns rock hard and is as sharp as glass. When the syrup splutters all over your stove and sticks like cement to your spoon to its resting plate you know you are in trouble. I cut myself trying to clean the shards of caramel because they really can turn into a substance which resembles glass and the usual cleaning methods will not work in removing it. I had to boil several cups of water to pour over my stove and equipment then hurriedly wipe away all the sugary substance before it set again. Not too much fun but well worth the trouble as I was thrilled with the golden elixir I had created.

The next time around it was simpler as I had enough caramel syrup left from the original cake to make another.

Overall it is a rather time-consuming cake but it is worth the effort, especially for you caramel lovers, and I am sure your family and friends will truly enjoy it.

Caramel Apple Cake

Caramel Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 0.5 cup water, at room temperature

Method

  1. In a small stainless steel saucepan with tall sides mix the water and sugar until it resembles wet sand without heat
  2. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.
  3. Turn on heat to highest flame and heat the mixture until it turns a dark amber colour, making sure you stir frequently
  4. Once the colour is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will bubble and splutter a lot. It is very dangerous, so make sure you are wearing long sleeves on and be prepared to step back
  5. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and thickens into a syrup
  6. Pour into a cup of small jug and leave to cool

    Bubbling Caramel - still white

    Bubbling Caramel - becoming golden

    Bubbling Caramel - golden amber - ready for liquefying

    Carmel Syrup

Notes and Tips

-          It does take some time for the sugar to turn into the golden caramel colour desired

-          The taller your saucepan the less splatter you will get on your stove

-          Pour boiling water over any materials covered in caramel splatter and wipe away quickly

-          It may be a good idea to double this recipe so you don’t have to make the caramel syrup again. It saved me so much time when I already had the syrup when I made the cake for a second time

-          The syrup will last covered in the fridge for several months

 

Caramel Cake

Ingredients

  • 140 grams unsalted butter, chopped at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅓ cup caramel syrup, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350F or 180OC
  2. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth
  4. Add the sugar and salt and cream the mixture until light and fluffy
  5. Slowly pour the caramel syrup into bowl
  6. Scrape down bowl and increase speed
  7. Beat the eggs and vanilla extract separately in a small bowl
  8. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract into the main mixture a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  9. Scrape down the bowl again and beat mixture until light and uniform
  10. Sift flour and baking powder in a separate bowl
  11. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one-third of the dry ingredients
  12. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.
  13. Then add another third of the dry ingredients
  14. Then add the other half of the milk
  15. Then add the last third of the dry ingredients
  16. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform
  17. Turn batter into prepared cake pan
  18. Bake cake in oven for 30 minutes
  19. After 30 minutes  spin pan in the over by 1800 (to enhance even cooking) and bake for another 15-20 minutes
  20. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean
  21. Leave to rest in pan for 5 minutes then flip onto cooling rack

Notes and Tips

-          The process of mixing the batter with the dry ingredients is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter

-          Spinning the cake in the middle of the baking the process will ensure even cooking of the cake

-          Cool cake completely  before icing and assembly

-          I noticed when I went to decorate this cake it has a very slight stickiness to it

Caramelized Butter Icing

Ingredients

  • 85 grams unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons thickened cream
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • 250 grams icing sugar, sifted
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

  1. Cook butter until brown
  2. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool
  3. Pour through sieve again to get rid of any impurities
  4. In a separate bowl mix the cream, vanilla essence and caramel syrup
  5. Pour butter into mixer bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment
  6. Add the icing sugar a little at a time
  7. When mixture looks too chunky and thick to take more sugar add a bit of the cream/caramel syrup mixture
  8.  Repeat until icing looks smooth and all icing sugar has been incorporated
  9. Mix in salt to taste.

Notes and Tips:

-          Do not ice a warm cake as this icing will melt and run very quickly

-          Refrigerate icing for 10 minutes before using on cake. This will make it easier to spread

-          Icing will keep in fridge for up to a month

-           To smooth out icing if you have stored it in the fridge microwave for 10 seconds, stir and then microwave and stir again before use

 

 

Apple Filling

Apple Slices

Ingredients

  • 2 Granny Smith green apples, cored and sliced into rings
  • A few drops of water
  • 1 teaspoon icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

 

Method

  1. Place the apple slices into a saucepan with a few drops of water on a low heat
  2. Stir in the lemon juice and icing sugar
  3. Let the apples stew for a few minutes
  4. The apples are ready when they have softened but are still a little crisp

 

Notes and Tips

-          I left the skin on the apples as I liked the hint of green in the mixture

-          the lemon juice keeps the apples from browning once they are cooked

-          Granny Smith apples are a good choice because their sourness compliments the sweetness of the caramel

 

Caramel Shards

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Method

  1. Line a baking tray with crumpled baking paper
  2. Stir sugar with water on low heat until it resembles wet sand
  3. Turn the heat to high and stir continuously until the mixture turns into a golden caramel colour and has liquefied
  4. Pour the caramel liquid onto the paper lined tray quickly
  5. Swirl the tray do spread out the caramel mixture so the caramel is not too thick
  6. Set aside to cool
  7. Cover the hard caramel with another sheet of baking paper
  8. Hammer the mixture with a hard object, perhaps a rolling-pin, until it has formed small shards

Notes and Tips

-          crumpling up the baking paper helps to add some bubbles and texture to the caramel

-          stick down the baking paper to the back of the tray if the paper will not rest comfortably in the baking tray

-          this is another tricky one to clean so make sure you wash the saucepan quickly in hot water to dissolve all the sugar

Assembly

  1. Cut the caramel cake in half in order to sandwich the cake
  2. Place the stewed apples on the base of the cake in order to create an even filling
  3. With a pastry brush, brush the apples with some of the left over caramel syrup
  4. Put the top back on the cake
  5. Ice the entire cake
  6. Sprinkle caramel shards to cover the top of the iced cake


Alterations

-          If you love caramel on its own you could omit the fruit filling. The cake alone is not overly sweet or heavy

-          The first time I made this cake I actually added a layer of caramelised fig on top of the apple. I halved some figs ripe figs (courtesy of my mother-in-law’s amazing fig tree), brushed some caramel syrup onto them and cooked them in the over on moderate heat for minutes. I then scooped out the insides and spread it onto my layer of apples like a jam. The fig and apple combination with the caramel was heavenly!

-          Another potential fruit filing could be strawberry slices. Their tart sweetness and bright red colour would work really well

Caramel Apple and Fig Cake

 

 

For those of you who have made caramel at home I would love to hear if you have had any favourite recipes, exciting experiences or pearls of wisdom!

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