Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I don't need to tell you again how much I love fall, how I smile more in cooler air, how cider sets my heart a flutter, the smell of wood burning stoves gets me out of bed on the most difficult mornings, how the colors in the treetops continue to inspire and drive me. Surely I've said enough about this while extolling the virtues of butternut squash salads and tarts, warm spiced nuts, melt in your mouth pot roast, and gooey pear laden pumpkin spice sticky rolls.
And as if you haven't gotten enough apples with apple crisp and cider donuts, I'm back to overdose you and every friend I can gather on my favorite fruit. This time it comes in the form of a lovely carrot cakesque layer cake, complete with cream cheese frosting. While this is no friend to the calorie counter, it will be a welcome guest at any fall birthday or dinner party, and it's currently auditioning for a role in my annual Thanksgiving line up.
Apple Spice Cake
2 medium Gala, Fugi, Braeburn or other sweet firm apple, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch cubes
2 Tbsp cognac (you can substitute bourbon or caldavos)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 jumbo eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pecan extract (if you can't find it use almond or more vanilla)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly ground green cardamom (one of those ingredients that you can leave out, but it will be missing some depth)
2 cups toasted pecan halves, divided
8 oz cream cheese at room temp
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pecan extract
pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar
After dicing the apple, allow it to macerate in the cognac for about an hour (the addition of macerated dried apple is also great in this).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft then cream in the sugars. Beat in each egg, one at a time, followed by the extracts. Sift in 1 cup flour and mix, then add 3/4 cup applesauce, mixing again, followed by another cup flour and remaining applesauce. Finish by sifting in the remaining flour with baking powder and soda and spices. Mix until just blended. Crumble in 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans and add macerated apples, then stir to combine. Divide evenly between 2 cake pans and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, blend cream cheese and butter until creamy and soft. Add extracts and salt, mix thoroughly. Sift powdered sugar into cream cheese mixture and beat until well combined. Apply liberally between and around cake layers. Top with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.