Does the fall weather – and produce – inspire you to bake? After a summer filled with “assembling” fresh fruits and vegetables into salads, slaws, and salsas, there is something satisfying about coming inside and turning on the oven.
Here are two great cakes for fall celebrations. This fall, I’ve taken two recipes I’ve been making for awhile and tweaked them a bit.
One of the few baking projects I tend to undertake in the summer is a simple cake like this French yogurt cake, from Epicurious. It provides the perfect base for summer fruit and a dollop of whipped cream – a less-fussy version of the flavors you get in a shortcake or trifle.
But now it’s fall. So I’ve swapped the lemon zest for orange, and added a cup or so of cranberries (fresh or frozen will do) to create a moist, delicious cake, perfect for a wide range of fall celebrations. Want to make it fancy? Simply swap your typical loaf pan for a small bundt pan and the celebration has started.
We have a small, old apple tree – that produces an inordinate amount of apples each year. I take bags and boxes of them almost everywhere I go, hoping to pawn them off on others. But when push comes to shove, I usually just cook with them. Apple crisp. Apple crumble. If I’m really ambitious – an apple tart or apple pie. But the large majority of them end up in a simple roasted applesauce.
This “recipe” from Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe couldn’t be simpler: diced, peeled apples on a sheet pan, with a pinch of sugar and salt, covered with foil. Roast at 375 for 30-40 minutes before mashing (you should try a potato masher for this). You can freeze this in 1 ½ cup containers and use for almost anything. You can serve with roast pork, stir into yogurt, or pour over vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of caramel sauce. Or you can make this applesauce cake.
The cake is adapted from Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. It is a moist, oil-based cake flavored with traditional baking spices, vanilla, and the unexpected kick of a bit of freshly-ground black pepper.
For years I made the cake with the glaze they suggest – a boiled icing consisting of butter, brown sugar and cream. More recently, however, I have switched to baking the cake in a round, springform pan and spreading the top with the buttercream frosting from this New York Times apple cake recipe. The kicker – generously sprinkle the entire frosted cake with flaky sea salt. Total apple perfection.
- 2 pounds apples mixed varieties are best
- Pinch of salt
- Up to 2 teaspoons sugar as needed
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups roasted applesauce
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Toss with a little salt and, unless they are very sweet, a bit of sugar to taste. If they are tart enough to make you squint, add the full measure of sugar. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Mash with a potato masher or large fork. Allow to cool before proceeding.
- For the Cake:
- Heat the oven to 350° F and butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs with both sugars until light. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.
- Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack before turning it out and cooling completely on the rack—make sure the cake is not at all warm before you make the frosting.
- For the Frosting:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the caramel sauce and mix on medium speed until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
- Add the cream and vanilla and mix to combine. The frosting should be smooth and very soft. Scoop the frosting onto the cooled cake, and spread into an even layer. Garnish with flaky salt just before serving.
Now that you have cakes for fall celebrations, looking for more fall treat recipes? Click here.
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