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Happy New Year!

I didn’t exactly keep up with the Jones’ (of blogging) and post any end of the year top 10 or 20 lists, I did however enjoy reading through them! I had some memories from the year and some recipe ideas for the new year.

Instead of searching through my archives or little read or seen posts, I got to baking. The decision to make this cake was a last-minute one I found after looking through my new Food Network Magazine (which I highly recommend). In the readers letters section I saw a comment about a cake that ran in their October magazine. My husband and I would be attending a party that evening and I knew right away this cake would be my choice to bake and bring to the party.

The cake portion was not complicated but the caramel topping was time-consuming. All in all it came together nicely. The “almost wasn’t” came in while the cake was in the oven. About 15 minutes into baking the power went out. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day, so I knew weather probably was not a factor. Then we heard sirens… All I could think about was this cake that I needed in just a few short hours, and the prep that had gone into making it. Turns out a transformer had blown and caught fire. No biggie, except for the fact that it knocked out power to what seemed like half of the city (slight exaggeration here). I had waited long enough and knew I needed a hot oven, and soon. Calling around I found no one nearby who had power. The decision was made then to pack up the half/baked cake and head up to my office, about 4 miles away.

Of course about 5 minutes after I arrived my husband called and said the power was back on. I wasn’t driving back home again, so I sat in a cold dark building and waited what seemed like hours. Ok, well one hour. We were supposed to be at this party around 6 p.m. and it was now after 5 and I was still waiting on a cake and completely unprepared to go. Shame on me, I left the office, oven on, cake in the oven, and ran home to grab the family and a change of clothes. Then we returned to grab the cake (which was cooked perfectly) and headed straight to the party. Ugh

So long story short – power outages stink, especially when you have food in the oven. Now on to the cake:

The cake is a dense “pound cake” like cake with a hint of cinnamon when served resembles highly that of a caramel apple. I guess that’s where it gained its name (duh!). I am sure if you wanted to cut down the prep time, a purchased caramel sauce would suffice. Here is the recipe. Hopefully if you decide to make it, the cooking process will go easier than mine did.

I’ve added a link to the recipe on Food Networks website, they have some step by step pictures available too. Again, Happy New Year from my oven to yours!

Caramel Apple Cake (link to recipe here)

From Food Network Magazine, October 2010, pg 142

For the Caramel and Apples:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large Golden Delicious apples

For the Batter:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Directions:

Butter a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan. Make the caramel: Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber, 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute. Pour 1 1/2 cups caramel into a glass measuring cup and set aside. Pour the remaining caramel into the prepared pan and set aside until set, about 30 minutes.

 Cut 3 apples into quarters and cut out the cores with a paring knife. Arrange the pieces skin-side down in the pan (overlapping them slightly) to form a ring about 1/2 inch from the edge. Save any pieces that do not fit for later. Halve the remaining whole apple crosswise. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or measuring spoon, leaving the stem on the top half. Chop the bottom and any of the leftover quartered apples into pieces; set aside. Arrange the apple top, stem-side down, in the center of the pan. If the quartered apples shift, just push them back into place.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, orange juice and vanilla. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Slip them into the mixer bowl, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 5 more minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula.  

With the mixer on low-speed, add half of the sour cream mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Repeat. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula; finish combining the batter by hand. Spread the batter over the apples in the pan. Top with the chopped apple. Bake on the middle oven rack until the cake is brown on top and springs back when pressed, 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes (don’t worry if the top is dark). Cool in the pan on a rack.

**Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a skillet wide enough to hold the cake pan. Carefully run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan several times, then rest the pan in the water to soften the caramel, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and dry. Invert a plate on top of the cake, then flip over the cake and plate. Using pot holders or a towel, wriggle the pan off. Soften the reserved 1 1/2 cups caramel in the microwave, about 2 minutes. Drizzle the cake with some of the caramel. Slice and serve with the rest. (I only used about 1/2 of the reserved caramel and um, serve this cake warm with some ice cream and you will get new friends.)

Note: On their website some of the reader comments spoke about finding (or not finding) the correct size pan. I didn’t either. I found an 8″ x 3″ pan, and a 10″, but not a 9″. So I used a 9″ springform pan that I lined with heavy foil. It worked perfectly and I was able to omit that last step of simmering water to loosen the cake from the pan.

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