october 4, 2018
Some years back I purchased a couple extra large muffin tins. They have been used exactly once. Instead of donating them to my local thrift shop, I decided to put them to proper use and make little cakes with gorgeous and fragrant local apples. These cakes are the perfect size for a single indulgence and easy to prep and bake. My guess is that they freeze well, but these treats never got to that stage. They do, however, age well at room temperature for a couple days and become more moist and dense on day two—so there was some restraint on my part. Having tasters helped, because six mini cakes is such a burden to consume all by myself!
Swooning over the roadside stand apples, deciding which ones to bake became easier when I gave a gentle poke : you want firm apples which hold up to being caramelized in a saute pan without turning to mush. Butter and light brown sugar turn apple slices into a delectable caramelized treat which could be enjoyed warmed or chilled by itself, with a dollop of ice cream, and would also make a fine topping for your morning bowl of oats. Here, they get tucked into well greased muffin cups and await their topping of a delicate cake given texture with a little yellow cornmeal and spice with a bit of cinnamon.
Twenty five minutes later you have cute cakelets; some apples may cling to the sides of the cups, but they can be scooped and patted back onto the cake surface with no loss of appearance. They may be served right away, but have the best texture when allowed to settle for a day and become more moist. Never a fan of fluffy cakes, I like dense cake, like my Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze. Whipped cream, ice cream or a simple topping of powdered sugar, seen in the picture, adds a nice final touch to these mini cakes.
As you might have guessed, those large muffins tins will stay a bit longer in my cabinets. You never know when the urge for a little cake, a mini cake, will pop into your dessert-hungry mind.
Caramelized Apple Mini Cakes
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes six mini cakes, using jumbo size muffin tin for 6 muffins
1 ½ pounds firm apples (like Gala), peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
¾ cup one- to- one gluten free flour (like Bob’s Red Mill) or all purpose white flour
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter (one stick)
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extra
½ cup full fat sour cream
optional garnish : powdered sugar
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a heavy saute pan, then when it sizzles add the apples and cook, stirring gently occasionally, until most are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
- Add light brown sugar and cook some more, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes or until sugar is melted – some apples may break up, but most should remain in slices – adjust heat if necessary.
- Set aside off heat to cool completely.
- When cooled, divide apple mixture into well-greased jumbo muffins tin with six cups.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In small bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients : flour, cornmeal, cinnamon, baking powder and salt
- In mixing bowl, use electric mixer to cream 8 tablespoons butter with ½ cup sugar until light and fluffy; add vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated.
- Add sour cream and blend.
- Add dry ingredients with spatula, folding just until all is blended.
- Divide batter between the muffin cups and bake for about 25 minutes until set.
- After removing from oven, let sit on rack, then invert onto sheet pan or platter; some apple may cling to sides of cups—simply scoop out and pat into cake tops.
- May be served right away, but best if aged a day at room temperature to become more moist.
- Garnish if desired with sprinkled powdered sugar, or serve with ice cream or whipped cream.