I had the privilege of making the Baked Explorations book's Caramel Apple Cake last weekend for my Baked Sunday Mornings group. Boy, what an undertaking! This was not your simple, thrown-together kinda cake. This was much more of a clear-your-calendar, spend the whole day covered in flour and frosting cake. But let me tell you, it was worth every second spent on it! It was nothing short of magnificent.
I broke the recipe up into steps; it made the whole thing so much easier and more manageable. I made the homemade applesauce, which goes into the cake batter, about two days before I was going to bake the cake. I made the homemade caramel, which is incorporated into the frosting as well as drizzled on top of the finished cake, about three or four days prior to baking day. I have to say, my confidence was totally boosted by making both the applesauce and the caramel; I had great success with both! I tend to mess up when making caramel, but this particular batch turned out pretty perfect. The applesauce was my first ever attempt at making it from scratch. It was completely easy to do and came together beautifully.
For the cake itself, I decided to cut the whole recipe in half. I was serving this for my brother-in-law's birthday, and there were going to be 7 of us eating the cake. Since this is a very decadent cake and I didn't really want there to be tons of leftovers lingering for days later, I thought a two-layer cake instead of a three-layer cake would be best. The cake was easy to whip up; I used two 9-inch round pans for it. The baking time was a bit less than the book indicated, but I am pretty sure it's because I switched things up.
The frosting, which is a cooked flour frosting, turned out way better than I expected it to. I've made this type of frosting before, and both times I have hit a bump in the road. Not this time. This batch came out great; satiny, luxurious, with a perfect hint of caramel flavor. Addictive stuff! I reduced the amount of frosting I made to just a third of the original amount, and it wasn't actually enough to frost the top and sides and fill the middle layer. So, I improvised. I had some leftover butterscotch frosting from my son's birthday cake, so I used that to fill the middle of the cake. It worked beautifully! The butterscotch complemented the spice cake so well, and the pale orange color coordinated nicely as well.
The cake was a huge hit, needless to say. Everyone really loved it. It was impressive to look at (even though my cake decorating skills need some work) and tasted unbelievably delicious. The cake was so moist from all that applesauce, and the spices were gentle but present. Everything comes together wonderfully in this cake; I don't know what else I can say about it!
But maybe there are some other people who have different things to say about it. Go check out the Baked Sunday Mornings blogroll to see the group's thoughts on this cake.