happy birthday, dad (and apple caramel cake)

apple cake

My dad’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago. So like any good foodie daughter, I asked what he wanted to eat for his birthday dinner and, more importantly, about the cake. It went something like this:

“What kind of cake do you want me to make for your birthday, Dad?”

“Oh, any cake is fine.”

Are you sure? How about chocolate or would you rather have a pie?”

“Whatever you want to make is fine. But…”

Pause.

“Have you ever made that apple kind of cake? Those are really good.”

“So you want an apple cake?”

“If you can. But whatever you want is fine. I love apple cake.”

I think I’ve made every type of apple pie imaginable (classic, crumb, caramel, etc.), but this was my first attempt at an apple cake.  All I have to say is that I’m glad it’s apple season.  This cake could be consumed in one or two sittings.  By one person.  It’s that good.  The caramel makes it, and although I anointed the cake with its initial douse of caramel, I burned the remaining caramel to a stinky black mess.  So we made do without the final drizzle, which really would have sent me over the edge of deliciousness.

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I promise my children are generally happy!  But when it comes to cake, particularly one they’ve been smelling all day and forbidden to touch, get out of the way.

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Apple Cake with Caramel

from epicurious

[click here for printable recipe]

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray. [I don’t own a Bundt so I used a tube pan, which was fine but a little tricky when taking out of the pan after soaking with caramel.]
  2. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 3 tablespoons flour mixture to Bundt pan and tilt to coat. Set pan aside.
  3. Place apples and 2 tablespoons flour mixture in another medium bowl; toss to coat apples.
  4. Combine 1 cup brown sugar, vegetable oil, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and 3 teaspoons vanilla in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture is thick, about 4 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining flour mixture.
  5. Fold apple mixture and pecans into batter; transfer to prepared Bundt pan.
  6. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer cake in pan to rack. Let stand while making caramel.
  7. Melt butter in heavy small skillet over medium heat.
  8. Whisk in remaining 1 cup brown sugar, then milk. Continue to whisk until topping is smooth and blended and comes to boil, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  9. Spoon 1/4 cup hot caramel topping over warm cake in pan. Let stand until topping is absorbed into cake, about 15 minutes.
  10. Turn cake out onto platter. Pour remaining warm topping over cake. Let stand until cool, at least 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome. Let stand at room temperature.)
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