There are a lot of things to love about summer cooking. Tomatoes and peaches. Beans and summer squash straight from the vine. Fresh produce which I dearly miss once summer comes to an end. But once Labor Day passes and the weather finally cools a bit, I am happy to gear up for my very favorite season and the very favorite pastime in my kitchen: fall baking! Apple recipes set the stage for the wonderful spicy flavors to come all through the colder months.
The Tuesdays With Dorie bakers have lots of wonderful apple recipes to enjoy this season, beginning with the Tarte Fine last week, continuing with this week's Double Apple Bundt Cake, and on to more apple recipes later in October.
- Lynne of the blog Honey Muffin chose the Double Apple Bundt Cake for us this week. You can find the recipe on her blog.
- The recipe calls for chopped nuts and raisins. I was baking this cake for my book group and there are some raisin-haters and nut-shunners among the members. I omitted the raisins and figured that I could get away with very finely chopped pecans (the least offensive nut to my tasters). Trader Joe's sells bags of toasted, chopped (finely) pecans that are an absolute lifesaver for a busy baker.
- Cancelling out all of the time-saving assistance given by the packaged nuts, I made my own apple butter which is a somewhat lengthy process, but not a difficult one. I used the apple butter recipe from the blog Simply Recipes, as I did when I baked the apple bread pudding a coupl of months ago. The apple butter thickened relatively quickly. In fact I may have let it get a bit too dense; when it came time to add it to the cake batter with the mixer on low speed, the apple butter didn't fully incorporate into the batter. As a result, the cake was left with little pockets of apple butter (which turned out to be delicious).
- I baked 1.5 recipe and filled four 2- cup molds and partly filled a 10-cup mold. The cakes rose quite a bit in the oven and were so pretty when released from their pans.
- I reduced the sugar by about 25% and the cake was still quite sweet.
- To dress up the cake a bit I made a cider/maple glaze. I set some boiled cider from King Arthur (a very intense concentrated essence of cider) in a little sauce pan with maple sugar and cooked it to thicken it a bit more. The maple sugar doesn't dissolve as easily as cane sugar, but I like the subtle flavor that it added to the glaze. When it boiled over (oops) I declared it done.
- Dorie says that the cake is better the second day. So of course I had to test that! We sampled some for dessert the evening I baked the cake, then had more for breakfast (it has fruit, don't forget), and then again that evening. The cake was well-tested, to be sure.
We ate one of the little cakes for dessert the first day and the next morning for breakfast - plain and unglazed. It had a lovely soft somewhat refined crumb. Grating the apple meant that there were no obvious pieces of apple detectable in the cake. Rather the apple shreds along with the apple butter contributed to the pervasive apple flavor of the cake. It reminded me very much of a very good banana cake, except with the taste of apple where the banana would be. If that makes any sense. I'm glad I omitted the raisins but the nuts added a nice crunch. The cake was quite sweet so I'm also glad that I cut the sugar. My husband asked for seconds, so we know he loved it!
The other small cakes were the perfect size to give away.
For book group in the evening I covered the bundt cake with a cider/maple glaze. I served the cake with whipped cream - which I consider essential to this cake - and drizzled some more of the cider glaze on top. I loved the way the glaze added even more apple-y goodness to an already delicious cake. My tasters were extremely enthusiastic about this one, in part because of the great recipe and in part because there had been a very long summer break since our last meeting.
This is a great cake to keep in the repertory. I think it would also be good with brown sugar or caramel frosting. I'd love to use some oat flour and/or a rough whole wheat to see how this cake would be with a rustic texture.