Why hello you gorgeous people!
So it would seem that all my assessments are over... for now. AND it would also seem that the weather is grey, wet and horrible, perfect for staying indoors. AND it would ALSO seem that it was my dad's birthday yesterday... so what can I say?
The stars aligned. I just had to bake a great big birthday cake.
This cake is a bit of an homage to the transition of the seasons (it was kind of autumn a couple of weeks ago, but now, it's, kind of winter.) I thought the flavour combination, and the rich earthy tones of the icing and caramel would...
Ah I'm just kidding, I just made this cake because my dad really likes apple cake! And I kind of like caramel. So I googled 'caramel apple cake', and there it was, from "baked" (I really like these guys, it's a shame I didn't know about them when I was in New York last year!)
I tweaked the recipe for the icing (I just used Heather from Sprinkle Bakes' salted caramel icing, and also the hard caramel decorations - from her new cookbook, which is amazing!)
You can also decorate the cake however you want, I had never made hard caramel before, so I just kind of improvised drizzling the stuff all over some baking paper, and stuck it all over the cake however I pleased! You don't even have to make the caramel or the icing if you don't want to, I think the apple cake would be really nice just made as a loaf cake.
But as a whole, the cake and icing and hard caramel are sooooo good. Did I mention it was good?
Folks, you will need to crumb coat this one. See above.
Caramel Apple Birthday Cake
Makes a big birthday cake, serves 20
For the apple sauce:
6 red apples, peeled, cored and chopped.
1 cup apple juice
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
For the apple cake:
4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
180g (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups home-made apple sauce
For the salted caramel buttercream:
3/4 cup caster sugar
6 tbsp water
3/4 cup lite thickened cream
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
3 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
For the hard caramel:
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, and stir to combine. Cook voer medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher until all solids are removed. Cool till room temperature.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line 3 round cake tins of the same size with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy and combined.
Add eggs, and mix until combined.
Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture, alternating additions with the apple sauce. Stir until combined, making sure no pockets of flour are left unnoticed!
Divide the batter between cake tins. Smooth tops, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Salted Caramel Buttercream:
In a saucepan, stir together sugar and water, bringing to the boil over a medium-high heat. Cook without stirring until the sugar has liquified and has turned a deep amber colour. Be careful of burning it though! You must watch carefully!
Remove from the heat and add in cream and vanilla, stirring to comnbine. Allow to cool until barely warm, yet still pourable.
With an electric mixer, beat sugar, salt and butter until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add icing sugar. Add the caramel, and beat again until misture is light and airy (about 4 minutes). Frosting is now ready to use.
Hard Caramel decorations:
Fill your kitchen sink halfway with icy cold water. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Put sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat over a medium-high heat. Cook without stirring, instead swirling the pan a little, until caramel is a nice amber colour. Remove from the heat and sit the saucepan in the iced water for about 3 seconds to stop further cooking. The pan will sizzle!
Working really quickly, use a spoon to gather caramel in the sauce and drizzle it over the baking paper, in whatever crazy shape you want. You could go for circles, waves or just "abstract" drizzles like I did. Leave to harden.
Place one of the cooled cake layers on a large plate and level off the top using a bread knife. Spread a little of the buttercream over the top so it fully and evenly covers the cake. Repeat with other layers, stacking one upon the other as you go. Put the last layer of cake bottom-side up, so it is nice and flat.
Crumb coat the cake: Using a spatula, spread a thin layer of buttercream over the whole cake. (See photo above). Place in fridge for 30 minutes until the cake is chilled (this will make it easier to ice later).
Once chilled, evenly spread the rest of the icing all over the cake. Now, with the hardened caramel, go crazy! Stick whatever shapes you have all over the cake. Have fun with it!
Congratulations! And also (if applicable), Happy Birthday!