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This week’s obsession: Apple Treats

An apple a day will keep anyone away if you throw it hard enough.

What, it’s true! Not that I recommend it...

And it's certainly not what I want to do with my apple treats. I want to put them in your face. Gently. Lovingly. Because I’m not trying to keep anyone away. And honestly, when you smell this cake, you won’t be able to stay away. (True story, I’m usually Oscar the Grouch after I run. But last night I baked this cake and let it cool while I was out for a run. When I walked back into my apartment and smiled because the whole place smelled of spices and apples, you know it's gotta be good.)

Spiced apple cake with salted caramel buttercream, salted caramel drip, and fresh apple wedges.
Spiced apple cake with salted caramel buttercream, salted caramel drip, and fresh apple wedges.

If you follow me on Instagram (@RebellionBaking) you may have noticed that I posted a poll to my followers last week  to find out what type of cakes they would like to see on my blog. The response was overwhelmingly apple, so who am I to deny the people what they want to see?? (Also, well done voters! Apples are in season and I looooooove baking with fresh, seasonal ingredients, so thank you for this opportunity!)

The thing is I used to always shy away from apple treats, particularly apple pie. (I know, I know. That is embarrassingly un-American!) However, I’ve realized that most of my aversion comes from the fact that I just don’t really like pie. Pie crust to me is a bit too… floury? Bland? Maybe that’s what it is. I can’t stand the taste of flour that hasn’t been mixed in (for the love of all that is holy, if you ever make a pizza crust or sugar cookies or anything else that you have to first roll out, please please PLEASE take the time to flip it over and dry brush the flour off of the bottom before you bake it. The flour will not miraculously mix into the dough while it’s baking, and everyone who bites into it will get a luscious tongue coating of flour. ::cringe::) and the typical pie dough doesn’t have enough flavor to mask the flour taste. Once I went to pastry school and discovered how to make tart dough that includes almond flour/an actual bit of flavor, I was able to rediscover many of the pie filling flavors that I had been previously avoiding.

But while I ate an apple (raw) almost every day of my tweens and teens, I never could get over the mushiness of cooked apples, exhibited prominently in apple pies. Those massive soft wedges of apple piled into the bland crust amid a slimy sauce of butter and spices (and that’s IF you’re lucky enough that someone made the pie filling from scratch. I actually don’t even know what the slime in canned apples is made of.) just never did it for me. But I’m working on it. Especially after I learned a few ways to improve it during pastry school.

For this week’s tip of the week, I want to share a piece of advice for baking with apples that I learned in pastry school. The most common question bakers have when it comes to baking with apples is “which type of apple should I choose?” Let’s be honest, there are way too many choices of apple. My research says that there are over 100 types of apples commercially grown in the U.S., and while only a small variety of them are available at the grocery stores I shop at, I find that even those few choices can be overwhelming! What my chefs taught me, though, was that you don’t have to pick just one. Any why should you, with so many options available?

Bonus tip: when adding fruit into a cake batter, toss it in a bit of the flour mixture before folding into the finished batter. This will prevent the fruit from sinking straight to the bottom.

They suggested choosing two or three different types of apple to give the flavor more dimension. And because of my love of contrast (Salted caramel! Spicy chocolate! Sea salt on my chocolate chip cookies! Bacon on doughnuts!... Ok that last one is a bit of an acquired taste.) I tend to pick at least one tart apple type - almost always Granny Smith - to go into my sweets for a nice, crisp pop of tart flavor. I’ve also learned that apples that keep their shape while baking are a pretty fantastic choice, which helps with that whole mushiness thing I’ve been avoiding for decades.

For this cake I chose Honeycrisp apples to go along with the tart Granny Smiths. Honeycrisp apples have been my favorite type of apple to chow down on for a few years now, and this choice was my attempt at planning ahead because hey, at least if I have leftover apples, I could still enjoy eating them raw! 

If you’re into dipping things for your snacks, you’ll know that apples dip really well into caramel, so of course I had to make some of that, too. Salted caramel to be exact. (Didn’t I tell you that I like contrast?) It almost didn’t make it into the cake because I kept tasting it over and over to make sure it was good. (It was.) I think the best part of this is that mixing the salted caramel into the buttercream brought the flavor contrasts in the cake to the next level. And I know it’s good because my own personal “Mikey” stopped by briefly today and I gave him a taste test. #RaveReviews

But there was a problem. Have you ever made a cake so pretty that you didn’t want to frost it? Yeah, I definitely had that problem with this cake. Before I mixed up the cake batter, I sliced up the Honeycrisp apples very thinly and arranged them along the bottom of the cake pans in a pretty spiral design.

When I cooled the layers and took them out of the pans I was pleasantly surprised by the visual. Just look at those beauties! But the more I admired them the more I struggled to talk myself into covering up these pretty designs. I kept trying to imagine different ways to display the layers of slices to no avail.

Baby steps.

One glance over at the bowl of salted caramel buttercream (and maybe a few more taste tests) somehow re-convinced me that it really would be an excellent idea to smear the salted caramel buttercream all over the cake and never look back. And thank goodness that I did, because all together, this cake is pretty impressive!!!

My plan for this cake was to bring it to a dinner party tomorrow, but then I realized that the party is on Tuesday. So really, the logical thing to do is eat this entire thing now and bake something else tomorrow so my friends can have a fresh dessert at their dinner party, right? Right.

I guess that means I’m going to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today instead. ::shrug::

(But real talk: Stop by if you're in the area. There's no way I can eat this whole thing by myself. Also, here's one last glamour shot/close up of the cake to tempt you, because according to one of my besties, it's what I'm good at ;) Temptress OUT!)

Happy eating, y’all!

What’s your favorite type of holiday desserts?

I have a few ideas up my sleeves, but I always love hearing from my readers. I just removed the regulations to log in to comment (although if you're viewing on your phone it may still be there for a few days), so all you need is your email address to post a comment on my blog now.

Comment below to share your thoughts with me!



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