Thanks to OXO for sponsoring this post!
This Salted Caramel Apple Cake is a lovely autumn/winter bake, lightly spiced with cinnamon and covered with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting.
I’ve been surprisingly busy since finishing uni, between the Ireland workshop and moving home I’ve been doing some freelance recipe development and photography. Meanwhile we haven’t had (and still don’t have) WiFi in the flat due to the building not being hooked up to the external phone lines so I’ve spent a lot of time on hold on the phone/waiting in for engineers. First world problems eh but it’s pretty critical to have internet for my work, unfortunately. Thank goodness for mobile hotspots!!! (i.e. the only way I can use my computer).
I’ve also been lucky enough to have a few weeks here and there assisting the lovely Frankie on some book shoots. It’s actually been great to work in a team of people on a shoot and pick up some photography and styling tips along the way.
If you’ve ever been on a food shoot before you’d know that the food stylist always has a styling kit filled with random little tools like tiny spatulas and microplanes. One thing that’s pretty essential to have at all times is a mandolin for shaving veg for salads and decoration. I’ve got a large mandolin at home but the mini grate & slice set I used to make the apple chips for this cake (from OXO) is a very handy size to bring to shoots. It’s also got an interchangeable blade so you can use it as a small or large grater as well! The grater blades were sharp enough to zest the orange for the cake batter which is always something I look for in a grater.
Another handy tool from OXO, which I could see being great to bring to shoots too, is their little one stop chop manual food processor. I used it here to make the buttercream and apple puree for the cake and its lightness means that I could easily carry it with me. Plus, I can just keep it on the shelves on my kitchen island to pull out for making a small batch of pesto, curry paste, salsa etc.
Now onto the cake – this is probably my favourite apple cake I’ve ever made. I whisked the eggs with the sugar until light and folded in a chunky apple puree. This not only added moisture like an applesauce would but little pieces of apple still studded the cake meaning pockets of appley goodness throughout. I made a cream cheese frosting for it, flavoured with muscovado sugar and salted caramel plus a drizzle of caramel sauce over the top. It’s a super light cake which actually doesn’t taste overly sweet in the end with a lovely warming flavour. I decorated with apple chips and a few crumbled walnuts but really, the cake is a showstopper even without the decorations. If you’re looking for an autumnal bake, this is *the one*. I hope you enjoy it!
For the cake:
- 4 medium eating apples , peeled and cored
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups (300g) plain flour
- 3/4 cup (190ml) vegetable oil
- 1 orange , zested
For the Salted Caramel:
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp flaky salt
For the Frosting:
- 10 oz (300g) cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (100g) unsalted butter, very soft
- 1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup (4 tbsp) salted caramel
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF)/ 160oC convection. Grease and line two 8-inch (20cm) round cake tins.
- Cut the peeled, cored apples into rough chunks and place into a medium pot. Add about 1/4 cup (60ml) of water to the pot and place over a medium heat on the stove. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the apple chunks are soft. Tip away excess liquid in the pot.
- Add cooked apples into the One Stop Chop and turn the handle a few times to roughly chop the apples into a chunky puree. You could also roughly mash the apples with a potato masher. Measure 1 cup (250g) of this puree out - that's how much you'll need.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs, gradually streaming in the granulated sugar. Keep whisking until the mixture is thick, foamy and pale.
- Add the 1 cup (250g) apple puree and remaining cake batter ingredients to the bowl of whisked eggs. Fold together with a spatula until just combined - try not to over-mix or you'll knock all the air out. Divide the batter between the two prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out of the tins and leaving to cool completely.
For the caramel:
- Place the heavy cream and butter in a small pot over a low heat so that the butter melts and the cream starts to steam.
- Meanwhile heat the sugar in a light-coloured pan over a medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, start to tilt and swirl the pan so that the sugar mixes with the melted caramel and evenly melts. Once the sugar has all melted and has turned from light yellow to amber, turn the heat down to low and pour in the warm cream and butter mixture – this will bubble up so be careful. Stir together until smooth then take off the heat and stir in the salt. Let cool to lukewarm.
For the frosting:
- If you're in the UK, the cream cheese first needs to be strained as it's too wet. To do this, take 2 pieces of paper towel, stack them and place onto a cutting board. Tip away any excess liquid from the cream cheese container and scoop the cream cheese onto the paper towel. Top with 2 more pieces of paper towel. Press down to flatten the cream cheese out into a disk - this increases the surface area which allows more moisture to be blotted. Unpeel the top layers of paper towel and tip the cream cheese into a bowl, discarding the paper towel.
- Cut the very soft butter into small cubes and place into the One Stop Chop with the brown sugar. Turn the handle until the mixture is smooth. Add the cream cheese and 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) of cooled caramel and turn the handle again until smooth. You could also make this by blending the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Chill until needed - you may need to whisk it slightly before using if it gets too firm in the fridge.
To assemble the cake:
- Remove the baking paper from the cooled cakes. Place one cake layer onto a serving plate. Scoop a few heaped tablespoons of the frosting on top and use an offset spatula to smooth it out over the surface of the cake. Top with the second cake layer. Scoop a few more tablespoons of the frosting on top and frost the top and sides of the cake, using more frosting as needed - I like to go light on the frosting on the sides here as we're pouring caramel on top too.
- Once frosted, pour the remaining salted caramel you made earlier over the whole cake - if the caramel is too thick to pour at this point you can briefly warm it on the stove until it's just slightly warm (if it's too hot it'll melt the buttercream). You can decorate the cake with apple chips if desired or leave it as is.