You may remember a couple weeks ago, when I shared a recipe for a Caramel Apple Cake, which I’d found in the Food Network magazine. I baked the cake for the dessert table at my little guy’s birthday party. In theory, the cake was inspired genius; the gooey, fruity top of an upside-down cake; oozing with homemade caramel. In execution, it was less than perfect. While the cake up near the apples and caramel was sweet and tender, the bulk of the cake struck me as a bit too dry and bland.
But the idea was too good to let go. So, I reworked the recipe a bit. The result was a definite winner; a better Caramel Apple Cake. I don’t want to insist that you ignore the Food Network on this one and listen to little ol’ me. But, well… Listen to me!
My adjustments are as follows. I reduced the amount of flour and increased the cinnamon. I halved the entire caramel recipe since, as written, it produces WAY more caramel than necessary. I eliminated the center apple, which seemed unnecessary and did little for the finished appearance. Finally, borrowing the idea from my favorite, super-moist chocolate cake recipe, I added 2/3 cup of boiling water to thin out the batter. The result was a significantly moister, more flavorful cake with less fat and calories than the original! An all-around win!
Caramel Apple Cake
Adapted from Food Network Magazine’s Caramel Apple Cake
For the Caramel:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the Cake:
- 2 Apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, or Crispin)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup Boiling Water
Butter a 3 inch deep, 8 or 9 inch diameter cake pan.
Prepare the Caramel. In a deep saucepan over medium-medium/high heat, combine the sugar and corn syrup until the sugar melts and the mixture turns a deep amber color. Be careful, because the mixture will be extremely hot. Turn down the heat to medium and carefully add the butter and cream. Be prepared that the mixture will bubble up vigorously. Stir with a long-handled spoon for about 3 minutes, until combined.
Allow the caramel to cool for a minute. Reserve 1/2 cup of the caramel in a container. Pour the remaining caramel into the cake pan. Allow the caramel to set for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice both apples into thin pieces. When the caramel has cooled, arrange the apple slices in an overlapping ring around the edge of the cake pan. Chop up the remaining apple slices and set aside.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a separate small bowl, mix together the sour cream, orange juice, and vanilla. Set aside.
Use a hand mixer to beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time, beat in the eggs. Then, add half of the flour mixture, followed by half of the sour cream mixture. Continue beating to combine. Add the remaining half of the flour mixture and remaining sour cream. Beat until combined.
Stir in the 2/3 cup of boiling water, until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the chopped apples.
Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back when gently pressed. Cool completely in the pan.
To serve, bring about an inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan or skillet (with a wider diameter than the cake pan). Turn off the heat and place the bottom of the cake pan in the hot water. Allow the pan to sit in the hot water for 5-7 minutes to soften the caramel. Then, run a knife along he edges of the cake to loosen and invert the cake over your serving plate. Microwave the caramel for a few seconds at a time until it is softened. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the top of the cake. Serve immediately.