Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Apple Pie" Cake

So it has been a while...I know.  But a lot has happen...after 8 1/2 years in D.C. my husband and I made the decision to move to Richmond for his job!  Which for me means...trying out this whole working from home thing (I am still up in the air on how I feel about it.); a much larger kitchen (OMG I finally have natural light streaming in through huge windows); and we are still working out how we feel about Richmond, but we are truly loving exploring it!  For now though, the baking continues, and I head to Alexandria every two weeks for sometime in the office.  Which means sometimes, like Monday, I end up with about three dozen cupcakes traveling via a two hour train ride. Change is good though right?  In all seriousness though, I was very excited for our new adventure.  I had been praying for direction and change, and clearly it was the right time.  Plus, the new adventure has provided a little inspiration I have been missing here.  I honestly had just gotten tired of baking and blogging in my old kitchen it was tiny, (see below) and I was just over it.  Don't get me wrong, I was still baking but not inspired to put anything down here.

Old Kitchen vs. 

New Kitchen here...can you see why I am happy?

So now with a new kitchen filled with light, a reason to bake and a little inspiration I broke in the oven with two new cakes and one old cake.  You may ask, why so many cakes at once, well it was for a wedding cake tasting...I didn't just need three cakes in the house for me to eat while I am at home all day working.  That would just be dangerous.

So the cake that I was most excited about out of the three was this one, Apple Pie Cake.  This cake is three light fluffy layers of browned butter vanilla bean cake that's so delicious you could eat it without the frosting and apples.  Then between the layers, we have a very thin layer of cinnamon cream cheese frosting on both the top and bottom of the cake layers, then a couple layers of apple pie filling.  The key here is very thinly sliced apples that you pre-bake and then let chill.  I know make ahead steps suck sometimes, put this is totally worth it!  This cake turned out exactly how I hoped it would, and I can't wait to make it again, when I can take a big slice out of it!

Starting the layers...look at all of the yummy cinnamon apples.

Ready for the plain cream cheese frosting on the outside.  Note, I frosted the top and the bottom of the cake between the layers so that the cinnamon apples wouldn't create a soggy cake.

Three cakes done...Apple Pie Cake is in the back!  (And now I know my brand new, never been used oven bakes pretty evenly.)  Also, my cakes are only 6" cakes because I didn't need three 9" cakes, so don't get confused when the recipe says use a 9" cake pan.  I just halved the recipes for the 6" ones.

Cheers to new adventures y'all!
(Hey I am back in the South in Richmond!)

Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or just 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar stirred in. Let sit for a couple of minutes.)

Baked Cinnamon Apple Filling:
3 red or green apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 block (8oz) 1/3 fat cream cheese, at room temperature
stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (just for the middle layers or if you want all cinnamon cream cheese frosting 2 teaspoons cinnamon.)

1.  Do ahead step 1...Browned Butter!  (This can be done a few days in advance; just leave in the refrigerator until the day you need it.) In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 sticks of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Let cool on the counter for 20 minutes then place in the refrigerator to re-harden.  Once it has re-hardened, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.  Once the butter is at room temperature you can start to bake the cakes.

2.  Do ahead step 2...Cinnamon Apples!  Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.   In a large bowl, mix together all of the baked cinnamon apple ingredients.  If you have a lemon laying around, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Spray an oven proof baking dish, or you can use a pie pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the apples in, in an even layer.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the apples are tender.  Remove from the oven and allow the apples to cool to room temperature.  If you won't be baking them right away, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Time for the Cake!

3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. 

4.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the 4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside

5.  Then using a mixer, cream the room temperature browned butter with the sugar and vanilla seeds until well combined.  Next, beat in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the eggs, one at a time until completely incorporated. 

6.  Next, whisk in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  (I do this by hand so as to not over mix the batter.)

7.  Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. 

8.  Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

9.  Prepare the frosting:  In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, on low speed, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Then mix in 2 cups powdered sugar on low speed, until it is fully mixed in.  Next mix in the vanilla extract and 2 more cups powdered sugar.  If the frosting starts to look to thick, add in a splash of plain milk or heavy cream. Beat on high for a minute or so.  If you are still not at your desired frosting temperature, mix in 1/2 cup powdered sugar at a time until you get there.  

10.  Time to layer the cakes!  Remove the cooled cakes from the their pans, discarding of the parchment paper.  Then using a serrated knife cutoff the rounded dome part of the cakes so they while lie flat on one another.  Next, in a small bowl take about 2 maybe 3 large spoonfuls of the cream cheese frosting and mix in the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Thinly frost the top of the bottom layer with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting; then neatly add and two even layers of the pre-baked and cooled apples (about half of the apples).  Then pick your middle cake layer.  Frost the bottom of this layer, and place on top of the apples, then frost the top and continue the process.  Once the top layer is on, cover with the plain cream cheese frosting.  You can go rustic with this, and make it more of a naked cake or you can cover the entire cake, the choice is yours.  When you are done frosting, sprinkle the top of the cake with just a pinch of cinnamon, serve and enjoy!

*Note: If you are not serving this right away, best stored at room temperature like a pie for up to two days in an airtight container, then move to the refrigerator!

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