Monday, October 04, 2010

TWD: Double Apple Bundt Cake, Drenched in Deliciousness

If you were around these parts for last week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, you may recall some apple-pickin' shenanigans that resulted in a half-bushel of apples taking up residence in my kitchen. Yes, my friends, they are still with us. [looks guiltily in the direction of the kitchen, overflowing with apples] Fortunately I've had a few more opportunities to bake with them, including this week's stellar recipe, Double Apple Bundt Cake.

This was actually the second apple bundt cake I've made in a week. The first was a variation on the Paris Hilton of internet apple cake recipes (surely that is a real category?), Mom's Apple Cake from Smitten Kitchen. Friends, I was not impressed. That particular cake has garnered over 500 fawning comments but I think Dorie's apple cake is much, much better. Maybe the Smitten Kitchen cake is not meant to be a bundt. I do not know. What I DO know is that I'm bummed I brought that gross cake to a potluck earlier this week instead of this other, far superior one! Superior, you say? Superior, indeed:

If you are wondering why my apple bundt cake looks drenched in deliciousness, it's because I made a brown sugar frosting for it. You might think the cake is moist enough, tasty enough, flavorful enough, sweet enough on its own, and it does not need a brown sugar frosting. You would be wrong. Fact: there is no apple cake that cannot be improved by a brown sugar frosting.

Especially a frosting that is thick and fudgy, with caramelized brown sugar notes, a hint of vanilla and maple, and a punch of salt in every bite. No, really. Check out this salt:

I didn't use salt in the frosting itself, but I sprinkled a large-grained sea salt liberally on top of the frosting. I wanted not just the flavor, but the texture of the salt to come through. I'm in love with this flaky sea salt and the way it pops in your mouth. I think a noticeable hit of salt is so necessary, especially in a dessert like this that could easily tip into the cloyingly sweet category.

I used my new favorite thing, Maldon Sea Salt. It's a great all-purpose large-flake sea salt that is perfect for finishing dishes (salted caramels, anyone?) because it keeps its texture well and crunches in the mouth. It's not wet (those moist sea salts creep me out) and it's reasonably priced--I got mine for about $6 total from saltworks. (I have no relationship with them at all, I just thought it was a monster steal and I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!)

Another exciting product going into this cake?

Okay, so fresh nutmeg is not exactly breaking news. BUT did you know you can buy it super-cheap at Cost Plus? 99 cents for about 8 nutmegs! (...nutmeg nuts? nutmeg megs? nutmeg seed pods? What do you call those??) Thus concludes today's Cheap Ingredient Shopping with Liz segment. Next week: vanilla pods on ebay!

So yes, if you were able to read between the lines of my product-bedazzled ramblings, this cake was phenomenal. I loved the way the grated apples melted into the cake, the extra apple kick from the apple butter, and the way it stayed so moist and flavorful day after day. It seems to keep getting better the longer it sits on the counter. I used plump dried cranberries and cinnamon pecans in the cake, and both of those were wonderful additions as well. I know I can sometimes be harsh on recipes (it's only because I love!) but I truly can't imagine improving on this.

The recipe will be posted on Lynne of Honey Muffin's blog, and the brown sugar frosting recipe is below.

Brown Sugar Frosting
Adapted from King Arthur Flour's brown sugar frosting

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cream
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp maple extract
hefty pinch of salt

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. It might look separated, but that's okay. Stir in the cream, and it should all come together. Bring the mixture to a boil, then pour it into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners' sugar, salt, maple extract, and vanilla. Beat well--I beat for about 30-45 seconds. If the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners' sugar, if it's too thick, add a spoonful of hot water. Be aware that it sets up QUICKLY. Pour it over the cake while it's still warm. Know that it's hard to go back and correct mistakes because it starts setting and crusting soon after being poured, so one option is to put it in a large Ziploc bag and cut off a corner. Pipe the frosting over the top so it drips down where you want it to. Sprinkle any toppings on right away.


  1. I'll be making a brown sugar frosting, but I'll be making it with apple cider instead.

  2. I NEED to know about vanilla beans on ebay. They are so expensive in the grocery store. You sure do make this cake sound good. And the brown sugar icing sounds fabulous! Love your pics too, especially the last one.

  3. Oh I do love brown sugar frosting. I bet that would be even better than the orange/lemon variant! Your cake looks amazing :-)

    Maldon salt is the best salt around! :-)

  4. ooooh....that brown sugar frosting sounds decadent! Thank you for sharing.

    I loved this time, I'm definitely going to top it with the brown sugar frosting.

  5. Your frosting REALLY is the icing on the cake!

  6. This looks amazing. Cream in frosting. That has got to be killer frosting. I thought it was brown butter frosting at first, which would be amazing. I am positive the brown sugar frosting was fab. I will have to try that.

  7. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Um, you had me at thick fudgy frosting. DROOL worthy!!!

  8. mmm could i please just eat the frosting, with a spoon?

  9. Ooh, that frosting looks amazing. Gorgeous!

  10. That fudgy frosting looks delicious!!! Oh my!

    P.S - Got a question, what temperature should a candy thermometer go to? I found one that goes to 300, is that enough?

  11. i'm jealous about your frosting... i thought about doing that but was lazy instead ;)

  12. Anonymous6:31 PM

    as always,your cake looks amazing I love the frosting...I will so have to try that next time! :)

  13. I love your kicked up brown sugar frosting and LOVE the idea of the sea salt. Must find that.

  14. Yum, this apple cake looks just fantastic! Your photos are always so beautiful.

  15. This is it! The brown sugar frosting turns a nice apple bundt breakfast-type cake into a delightful dessert.

  16. BROWN SUGAR ICING!! Be still my heart. I couldn't imagine making this one any better, but you did. It looks amazing.

  17. Oh my--this looks so amazing! I missed this recipe, but I now have a kitchen full of apples so may have to revisit it. Your frosting looks beyond amazing too!

  18. Can't wait to try this! I think the addition of sea salt is ingenious! Your cake looks soft, sweet, crunchy and a touch salty....perfection.