I love baking with apples and spices this time of year. And this cake incorporates chunky apples, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. It just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about them. Makes me think of crisp cooler days, the changing colors of leaves and mugs of warm spicy beverages. Fall is my favorite season, simply because the scenery is so beautiful. I dream of moving to the east coast and living in a scene out of LL Bean. Ahhh, yes! Anyone out there share the same dream?
Every year when the Fall and Winter LL Bean catalogs come out (Lands End too!) my friend and I head to the book store with a stack of catalogs, pens and pads of paper in hand to make our wish lists. My wish list is mostly comprised of mens stuff since I don't shop for myself much, which is fine since we both mentally shop for our husbands anyway. Sipping our pumpkin spice lattes, we go through page by page, ooh and ahh, and comment about our favorite colors and what we think our spouses would look good in. Only my husband gets to the catalog first and highlights and circles what he wants long before I ever get my hands on it, so that makes it easy for me. It's fun and it's cheap entertainment!
But part of the appeal for us both is the idealistic setting in Maine. Living in Texas, we don't get the changing of seasons. It still looks and feels like summer only it's in the 80's and 90's rather than 110 degrees! Texas will never look like Fall in the LL Bean catalogs, but that's okay because it gives me something to look forward to with my friend. And having a slice of this cake brought me a little closer to that feeling as well. I accidentally chunked my apples too large, but in the end it turned out fine, albeit rustic looking. This cake was a nice blend of spices and stayed moist in the fridge for several days, although it was best at room temperature. The maple in the frosting was a nice but subtle compliment to the cream cheese and the nuts (I choose pecans over walnuts every time!) added a nice crunch. If you're needing a little bit of Autumn in your life, give this cake a try. While I really liked this cake, the apple cake with brown sugar glaze is still my favorite.
Apple Cake with Maple Frosting adapted from The Cake Book
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/3-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan. Dust the pan with flour, or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour. (I sprayed my pan, lined it with parchment, then sprayed the paper once again).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer) beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat at medium-high speed until well blended and light, about 2 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the buttermilk in two additions and mixing just until blended (flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour). Stir in the chopped apples and nuts by hand with rubber scraper.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until it is golden and toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Frost the top of the cooled cake with maple frosting (recipe follows). Cut the cake into squares and serve it directly from the pan.
Store in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for up to 3 days. Bring cake up to room temperature before serving.
Maple Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon maple flavoring or 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of freshly ground ginger
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
In a bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth.
beat in the vanilla, maple, spices and salt. Reduce the speed to low, add the powdered sugar and beat until well blended. Raise the speed to high and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.