Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Walnut Cake with Warm Caramel Sauce

Apple Shape Poetry

Fall season offers a wide variety of apples to choose from. Honeycrisp has met its match with a new variety called SweeTango. This apple has a 
satisfying crunch and a juicy blast of sweet-tart flavor. It is quite delicious!
SweeTango are produced from a new Minneiska variety developed by the University of Minnesota. This variety has great parentage as it is a cross between two stars of the University of Minnesota apple breeding program: the Honeycrisp Apple and the Zestar Apple.

There are so many varieties of apples available in stores and at farmers markets these days, that it can be challenging to choose apples for baking. In the past, a baker might have reached for sweet-tart Granny Smith apples without a second thought, but there are many different kinds of apples that will work just as well, if not better, in baking pies, crisp and other apple desserts.

Texture and taste are the two most important qualities to consider in a baking apple, and the apple that you like best for everyday snacking might not hold up when put into a pie. Apples need to retain their shape and not turn into applesauce during baking. The best apples will be able to offer a little bit of resistance (keep a little hint of crunch) even after a long time in the oven. Baking apples should also not be too sweet, since most pie recipes call for a fair amount of sugar. The sugar serves as flavoring and helps thicken the juices of the apples as they cook, and cutting it down to compensate for super-sweet apples can sometimes change the outcome of the final pie.

Granny Smiths are always a decent choice for pie, as they are easy to find, will hold up during baking and can take a lot of extra flavor from sugar and spices. Jonathan, Jonagold and Pippin apples are other excellent sweet-tart choices. Gravenstein, Braeburn, Fuji and Pink Lady Apples are all crisp and sturdy, as well. Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, despite their promising names, are not good choices for baking, and neither are Gala and Cortland, since they tend to become mealy in pie fillings.

Choose a tart apple for baking this apple walnut cake. When served with warm caramel sauce it is one serious bliss.  
 Apple Walnut Cake with Warm Caramel Sauce
Apple Layer
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. each allspice and nutmeg
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cold butter and 1/4 cup margarine, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tart apples (about 2 cups) peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large egg beaten 
Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TB. melted butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Cake Directions:
  • Grease a 9 inch square pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl mix flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, spices and baking soda.
  • With a pastry cutter cut in butter and margarine or pulse flour mixture a few times in food processor with butter/margarine.
  • Stir in egg and chopped apples. Mix well.
  • Spoon batter into pan (it will be thick). Use a sheet of wax paper to press batter down and spread evenly in the pan.
  • Cool cake for one hour and serve with warm sauce. 
Caramel Sauce Directions:
  • In a small saucepan add cream, sugars and butter. Whisk to blend and cook on medium low heat until sugars are dissolved about  6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Whisk to blend.  Drizzle sauce over each cake slice.

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