There are a lot of things to say about this absolutely delicious apple spice cake. I realize it sounds so "autumn" but I needed to use up some extra granny smith apples that I had sitting around from my 4th of July apple crisp. Granny smith are a little too tart for me to eat out of hand and this recipe just sounded perfect. The original recipe calls for three 9 inch layers but I used my rectangular 12 x 16 Wilton cake pan. I wanted it to be more like a snack cake. The recipe calls for molasses which I realized at the last minute I didn't have. I used some pure maple syrup I had instead. I didn't add the optional fresh ground ginger and cut back a little on the allspice. Two teaspoons sounded like an awful lot of allspice but then again, it makes a large amount of batter so I'm sure it would have been ok. The cake does not look really pretty when out of the oven and left unfrosted. It looked very rustic and bumpy but was delicious without the icing. I made a little tiny sample cake to try. It was excellent un-iced.
Ok, now onto the dulce de leche icing. I made my own dulce de leche out of sweetened condensed milk but it took a bit of trial and error. I followed the instructions below for simmering the punctured can in a pan of water. I kept waiting for the milk that was pooled on top of the can to turn deep golden brown like the instructions read. That never happened. The milk on top was barely a light tan when I finally removed the can. I had let the can sit in a pan of simmering water for.....wait for it.....I'm not kidding, for 10 hours!! Isn't that insane? I was diligently waiting for that golden brown to happen. Well, the end result was a VERY dark and almost gritty, burnt tasting brown paste. Ugh. I threw that away and tried again with my last can of sweetened condensed milk. The recipe below says to simmer the can for an hour before removing. I let my 2nd can simmer for about 2 hours before removing it and I'm now thinking it could have still used an extra hour in the pan. It was a very light brown. All I can really compare it to is the already made dulce de leche in the can that I sometimes find in the grocery store. That kind is a much deeper brown. I'm not sure if there are supposed to be different shades of dulce de leche but mine was still terrific. I ate plenty right out of the can. One other change I made: After I made the first part of the buttercream, instead of mixing in the complete can of dulce de leche, I used about 2/3 of it and then swirled the remainder into the top of the already iced cake so it would have visible swirls of caramel. I was very happy with the results. The icing is not really firm, it's kind of almost glazy like. Oh, I guess I made another change, I wanted the icing to be a bit thicker so I added another cup of powdered sugar. It was still thin but was honestly one of the best tasting icings I have ever eaten. Absolutely out of this world. It would be wonderful on many flavors of cake.
The smell & spices of this cake will definitely remind you of autumn or Christmas but it's an excellent cake for summer as well. I will be making this cake often when I have some extra apples laying around. I'm sure it would make wonderful cupcakes as well. It would taste awesome with a cream cheese icing or maybe even an orange flavored icing. But I DO recommend this wonderful recipe. It's moist, it's not heavy, it's SO flavorful and you have to try it with this sinfully rich and sweet and oh so delicious dulce de leche buttercream icing.
Apple Spice Cake
From The Pastry Queen Christmas
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons light molasses
- 6 large eggs
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
- Place one oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and a second rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch cake pans with butter or cooking spray, then line each with a parchment paper round and grease the rounds.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the molasses. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground spices to blend. Add the flour mixture and sour cream alternately to the batter. (Start and end with the flour mixture, adding the flour mixture in 3 increments and the sour cream in 2 increments.) After each addition, mix on low speed just to combine the ingredients. Stir in the shredded apples, vanilla, and ginger.
- Spoon the batter (it will be thick) evenly into the prepared pans. Place two cake pans side by side on one rack and the third on the other. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until firm to the touch. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at a different time. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans and unmold the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely, 15 to 30 minutes, before frosting.
Dulce de Leche Buttercream
From The Pastry Queen / Rebecca Rather
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Dulce de leche (instructions below)
To make the dulce de leche: Remove the paper wrapper from the can of sweetened condensed milk. Use a can opener to make two small punctures on opposite sides of the top of the can. Set the can of milk in a medium saucepan, puncture side up. Fill the saucepan with water to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the can. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat until the water simmers. Simmer the milk about 1 hour. Check the saucepan periodically, adding water to ensure that the water level does not drop below halfway. A bit of milk may seep out of the small holes in the can. Cook until the milk pooled on the top of the can has turned a deep golden brown (You may have heard that boiling the can of sweetened condensed milk unopened is a shortcut. Do not attempt this. The milk expands when heated and may erupt with explosive results).
Remove the can from the simmering water using a pot holder or tongs (it will be hot). Open the can carefully and use a rubber spatula to spoon the cooked milk into a small bowl. It should have a puddinglike consistency. Set aside until completely cooled. Reserve the dulce de leche for the frosting.
To make the buttercream: Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the cooled dulce de leche and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes longer.