apple cake with caramel glaze

 apple cake with caramel glaze

apple cake with caramel glaze

october 17, 2012

If I ruled the world, apples would be a seasonal commodity.  Yes, I recognize the convenience of year round apple availability in grocery stores, but I want to miss them terribly when their season ends and welcome them back heartily when there is a chill in the air next fall.  Absence would make any heart grow even fonder of this versatile fruit.  My local farmer’s market carries a dozen or more varieties from late August until they close shop at Thanksgiving.

apples at Pole Green Produce in Mechanicsville, Virginia

As each variety is ripe for picking,they come to market in waves, spilling out of boxes and bushel baskets.  Yellow jackets, drunk with apple nectar, lazily buzz around the brimming bins.  Many apples have stems still attached.  They are marred with holes indicating quality control testing by bugs and that’s just fine by me.  They are perfect in their imperfection.  Contrast one of these jewels with a commercially grown red delicious apple, waxed and polished with nary a worm hole in sight.  It resembles the Disney celluloid version used to tempt fair Snow White, and when you take a taste you are reminded of a movie prop as there is beauty without substance, perfection without real apple flavor. I often choose the ugliest apples in the pile because I know they risk abandonment; we are programmed by grocery store dynamics to pick the prettiest.  Genetic modification has bred much of the taste and “appleness” from our apples and God bless those who carry on the tradition of growing heritage varieties.

virginia apples : (from left) jonathan, grimes golden, rome, empire, piney river gold, stayman, york, old fashioned winesap


Now bite into an asymmetrically flattened york apple, feel the crack of teeth against apple skin, taste the winey droplets that burst forth like tiny fireworks and get a little closer to apple heaven.  These locally grown apples are not keepers.  They are not meant for cold storage and for each variety, once the trees are emptied of fruit, they are no more.  Towards the end of the season I buy up what my cellar will hold, transforming them into favorites, and try not to whimper when the collection becomes sparse.

The Good Eats Company personal chef service offers apples prepared in savories as well as sweets.  Two tasty menu items are spicy apple ketchup (really a long lasting chutney; see previous post) and  a roasted rosemary applesauce adapted from a New York Times recipe.

This apple cake is one of my most popular desserts.  It makes a great addition to the brunch table and is comforting with a cup of hot tea.  Did I mention that it’s easy to make?  No mixer needed.  Simply whisk all ingredients together and have a loose hand when applying the glaze.  The appearance of this dessert is homey and rustic.  Just as with locally farmed apples at a roadside stand, perfection is not required.

apple cake with caramel glaze

by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes 12-14 servings

cake ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t fine sea salt ( I like Baleine)
3 t ground cinnamon
2 cups cane sugar
1 1/2 cups neutral vegetable oil like canola
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 t pure vanilla extract
3 cups apple, peeled and chopped


one stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 cups unsifted confectioner’s sugar



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease and flour 12 cup bundt or other tube pan.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients in bowl.
  4. In separate large mixing bowl, whisk sugar and oil until uniformly mixed, then add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
  5. Whisk in vanilla.
  6. Add dry ingredients and gently mix in with large spatula; when nearly all mixed add apples and combine just until uniformly mixed.
  7. Add to prepared pan, smoothing top, and bake one hour and 15 minutes until top is golden and tester comes out clean.
  8. Let cake cool in pan 15 minutes before inverting onto cake server; let cool completely before applying glaze.
  9. For glaze, melt butter over medium heat in 2 quart saucepan, add brown sugar and then milk, whisking well until mixture come to a full boil over high heat.
  10. Allow glaze to boil one minute.
  11. Off heat, add confectioner’s sugar in several additions, whisking until smooth.
  12. Working quickly, spoon over top of cake and drizzle over the sides; if glaze begins to harden, add a few drops milk or water and whisk until smooth.
  13. This cake ages well (becomes more moist) at room temperature for up to 5 days; freeze any remainder, tightly covered.

categories : desserts, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, autumn

gluten free version
substitute gluten free flour mix for all purpose and add 1 1/2 t xanthan gum to dry ingredients (example of GF flour mix : 2 cups brown or white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca starch)

vegan version
substitute Ener-G Egg Replacer for eggs in cake, vegan margarine for butter in glaze and either unsweetened soy or almond milk for milk in glaze

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