When the temperature drops along with the leaves and apples are at their peak, there is no more comforting thing to bake than a chunky apple cake. Even better – a caramel apple cake, in keeping with thoughts of Halloween coming soon. This moist cake is simple to stir together, studded with tart apples – with their skins – and a chewy, crunchy topping made with crushed caramel, which is also stirred into the batter – a double whammy of caramel to make the ultimate fall dessert. Perfect for after school snacking, a harvest dinner or Halloween party.
To crush caramels, unwrap them, seal them in a sturdy zip-lock bag and bash with a rolling pin, hammer, can, or other hard tool. Kids will enjoy this part.
The batter is thick and creamy, yet made with half canola oil, boosting heart-healthy fats while maintaining that buttery flavour.
Use tart apples – these are Cripps Pink – and leave their skins on. Most of the nutrients and fiber are in the skins, which will soften in the oven and add color.
The crumbs can be whizzed together in the food processor to speed things up – squeeze clumps as you scatter the mixture over the batter to create big, crunchy clusters on top.
Eat warm. It wouldn’t argue to be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Happy fall!
Chunky Caramel Crumble Apple Cake
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or maple extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose, half whole wheat or oat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 tart apples, diced (keep the peels on)
1/3 cup Werther’s Original hard caramels, unwrapped and crushed¨ (about 15 candies)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Werther’s Original hard caramels, unwrapped and crushed (about 20 candies)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and brown sugar for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla or maple extract and beat until well combined.
In a smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the yogurt in two parts, and beating on low just until combined with each addition. Stir in the apples and caramels and spread into a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 9×13-inch pan that has been buttered or sprayed with nonstick spray.
For the crumble, blend together the butter, brown sugar and flour until well combined and crumbly. Stir in the crushed caramels and nuts. Scatter the mixture over the top of the cake batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cake is golden and springy to the touch.
Serve warm. Serves 20-24.