Let Them Eat Cake

Yesterday's pretty sunrise was a portent of the crappy day of weather ahead of us. It was blustery and cloudy, and by day's end a big black cloud formed in the sky, dumping rain for most of the evening. Today, we're back to sunshine, although it is decidedly cooler than it has been. We still want to do some hiking, but I have a feeling we'll wait until the weekend is over. Maybe not...one never knows.

I took a break from slow stitching and photography yesterday in order to try a cake recipe I saw in the NYTimes a few weeks ago. I wanted to try to turn it into a cake for two, and so that was yesterday's challenge. My adaptations don't always work, but this one was a winner. You first peel, core and dice an apple...mine was a Granny Smith...and then cook it in some butter and brown sugar. When that cools, you can make the cake, adding in the cooked apples at the end.

Mine was baked in an 8-inch skillet. Be sure you know your skillet size before attempting any kind of skillet baking. I learned the hard way that iron skillets, unlike other cake pans, are measured across the top, from edge to edge, rather than from the bottom surface. So, an 8-inch skillet is sort of a medium-sized skillet. Also, I've decided that baking in the microwave/convection combination oven doesn't work very well, and so I used my regular propane oven for this. When the cake was baked, it looked like this:

When it was cooled, I made the caramel frosting. This is done using soft caramel candies that have been melted in the microwave. I was surprised how quickly this happened. The recipe instructs to give them 20-second bursts in the microwave. Mine were bubbling and threatening to overflow their bowl after just three bursts. If you try this, pay attention during this step. Also, I suggest using a paper bowl or a paper cup for this. The caramel hardens very quickly when it comes out of the microwave. It stayed soft long enough for me to make the frosting, but the residue left in my Corelle bowl and on the spoon and spatula I used was difficult to clean off. It was like a Sugar Daddy (please tell me you're old enough to remember Sugar Daddys), sticky and hard. Plenty of hot water also got the job done, but something disposable would have been better.

When it was frosted, it looked like this. We waited to cut into it until after dinner, but I was pretty excited to see how it all came together with my adaptations to the original recipe.

And I'm just gonna say right here and now that this really is a cake for four. Half a cake would be a ridiculous amount to eat. But then, after eating it, I'd say it's actually probably a cake for six. The frosting is very sweet. I'm a sugar fiend, and so I like the sweetness, but it would probably be too high on the "ick" scale for most people. When we cut into it, it looked like this.

But you're supposed to add flaky salt just before serving it. I used my coarse kosher salt, sprinkling it on after having taken the shot above. The shot with the salt is kind of blurry since the camera decided to focus on just the salt. Nevertheless, I wanted you to see how it looks once the "salt" for the "salted" caramel was added.

Despite the sweetness, Mike and I each finished our piece, and it was very tasty. I should say too that the cake alone was delicious. Even if you decided not to frost it, the cake would be good with a little dollop of whipped cream. So, here's my adaptation of the original recipe:

Apple Skillet Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting for Two
adapted from the NYTimes
Serves 4-6


2 tablespoons/27.5 grams unsalted butter
1 large baking apple (about 6 ounces/170 grams), such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup/110 grams dark brown sugar
Pinch fine sea salt

1/4 cup/55 grams unsalted butter (1/2 stick), at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2/3 cup/145 grams dark brown sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg white
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons/108 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

6 Tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
1-1/2 cups/185 grams confectioners' sugar, sifted
3.5 ounces/103 grams unwrapped soft caramel candies
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Flaky sea salt, as needed, for finishing


Make the apples: In a 8-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, brown sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the apples soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8-inch oven-proof skillet with butter.

Make the cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well, then beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the apple mixture (including all of the caramel-like liquid in the pan) into the batter. Mix just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the surface is evenly golden brown and appears set – a toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely.

Make 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.

Place the caramels in a microwave-safe container. Microwave in 20-second bursts, stirring, until the caramel is warm and fluid. (This mixture will cool quickly, so be sure to do it just before you mix the frosting.) Add the warm (not hot) caramel mixture 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.

* * * * *

Okay, so the hummingbirds found the relocated feeder right away. The seed-eating birds haven't found their feeder yet, and so I hope they'll come back. There wasn't enough sun to get this guy's glowing red head in a photograph, but we should have better luck with our pictures today.

Smitty is currently making himself very available for a walk. He didn't get out yesterday, and so we'll be sure to get him out today.

I have another photography challenge planned today. My book fell open to the challenge entitled, "Repeat After Me." The challenge is to photograph patterns, and so we'll take another walk around today and see what we can see. Also, I'm hoping to get in some slow-stitching time today. I hate to admit it, but my thumb felt better after giving it a rest yesterday. I've been limiting myself to two lengths of floss recently...and since the floss is separated into three lengths of two strands, that ends up being six lengths of stitching. Maybe I'll try doing just one length today and see if my thumb can handle that. Or maybe I'll try doing one length in the morning and one in the afternoon. We'll see.


Barbara said...

Baking makes me focus. On weighing the sugar. On sieving the flour. I find it calming and rewarding because, in fairness, it is sort of magic - you start off with all this disparate stuff, such as butter and eggs, and what you end up with is so totally different. And also delicious. ~ Marian Keyes

Anonymous said...

Yes...I remember Sugar Daddy’s candy! It was a favorite, and you know, I have not thought about it in a really long time.... I also liked Sugar Babies...that was a favorite treat at the movies. I remember a Saturday afternoon going to the movies with my best friend, and given it was a summer day, we decided to get sno-cones. Well, that was a huge mistake...the sno-cones were cherry flavored, and the paper cones leaked all over the fronts of our sundresses, and we didn’t realize it until we came out of the theatre! What a mess! And we were so embarrassed because everyone was looking at us as we rode the city bus home!! I will never forget that afternoon, although I have to admit, I haven’t thought about it in a while! We were mortified, to be sure, but just like a lot of things that happened in our youth, we survived, and made it to the next thing that happened, and there was always another thing that happened!!
The cake recipe sounds delicious...we love anything with caramel...will try this one soon!!
Sandra B

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

OMG, that looks like the perfect amount of frosting! Yum!!

Kaisievic said...

The cake turned out beautifully although the caramel frosting would have been far too sweet for me, I think.

Debbiegsp said...

I will be trying that cake recipe soon. Sounds delicious! Concerning your thumb, try using the standard rehab routine. Warm it up for about 15 min. before starting your stitching, with a heating pad (maybe a kitty would do this for you ;). Then after your sewing, be sure to ice the joint for at least 20 min. I always hate the icing down part, but it does relieve a lot of the pain. My son is an athletic trainer, and makes his athletes go through this process daily, with any strained or injured joints, etc. I’m glad you’re healing. Tell Mike that it took washing and waxing the RV, to get our first significant storm of the winter. Keep up the good work!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Yummy cake recipe, but I would go for a cream cheese frosting. AND I remember Sugar Daddy candy! Curious to see your new photos.

Dorothy said...

Sugar Daddy candy---YEAH--I still love it. But I am with Vroomans' Quilts--cream cheese frosting

piecefulwendy said...

I can still taste Sugar Daddy's candy. That recipe looks really good, but I'd have to go to the grocery store for caramels, and you know how I feel about that. Glad you are figuring out a sew and rest rhythm. At first, when I read you went hiking, I read biking - was a bit surprised until I realized my mistake!

SJSM said...

Ah, another recipe for the sweet tooth. But look, it’s healthy! It has apples!

MissPat said...

recipes I do remember Sugar Daddies, but don't think I was a big fan. Too many sweets as a child resulted in a mouth full of crowns and fillings, so I now avoid sticky, chewy candies. And my tolerance for sweet stuff has diminished. i'd probably eat the cake sans frosting. I get frustrated with NYT recipes, since they promote them (I have a subscription to the online edition), but the actual recipe is behind the pay wall for the added cooking subscription. But there are plenty of other recipes online if you don't mind having to scroll through endless amounts of chatter to get to them.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Your cake looks yummy but I think I would pass on the sweet icing part of it. Since we've lost the weight it's funny how we've stopped craving big amounts of sugar (never thought I'd say that!).
Today we had a pretty constant parade of birds at our little suet feeder because it's really cold outside and they need to fuel up. I always feel so sorry for them when it's so cold.

Sue Baker said...

I am curious, you Do Slow Stitching, the cats nap, what does Mike do to pass time while you are confined in close quarters during your trips?