My 5-year-old is hooked on In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak. As such all he ever wants to do is bake “a delicious Mickey cake”, marching around the house singing “milk! milk! milk for the morning cake!”, and “milk in the batter! milk in the batter! we! bake! cake! and nothing’s the matter!” Which plants the seed – like subliminal messages telling me to eat cake. All the time. But a simple cake is a fun thing to bake together, especially when you get to use crisp, flavorful fall apples and make the house smell better than the best potpourri.
So rather than turn to the internet or my usual stash of recipes, I pulled one of the thousand or so cookbooks off my shelf – Everyday Favourites by Canadian Living – and flipped to the first simple cake recipe. One that called for apples, which are so fantastic right now, and which we have a surplus of. The recipe was called Butterscotch Apple Spice Cake, but I made a few adjustments, and love the idea of caramel apples in cake form.
This is my favorite type of cake – dense and moist but not too sweet – to be eaten in wedges with coffee or tea, and no pressure to perform with frosting. Frosting is (mostly) for cupcakes, in my book. A light dusting of icing sugar immediately before serving would doll it up a bit.
Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
1/4 cup butter, softened, or canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, or some all-purpose, some whole wheat
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 apples, unpeeled and sliced
1/2 cup caramel sauce, or 3/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 10″ tube pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until sandy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add about a third to the butter mixture and beat on low just until blended. Add half the sour cream, another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the sour cream, and the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring by hand or beating on low just until combined. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Slice the apples onto the surface, arranging them however you like – they will shrink as they cook, so feel free to place them tightly together. Drizzle with caramel sauce. If you’re using the sugar and butter, bring it to a simmer in a small saucepan, then drizzle it overtop.
Bake for 45 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch.