I often go through the dilemma as to whether I’m a city girl or a country girl. I grew up in the country and always wanted to live in the city. Now that I’m living in a city I love it. I’m busy there’s way more to do and I think I see myself as someone who always needs to live near a big city. But I do appreciate the beauty and peace the country has to offer. Ultimately, I need to be close enough to a rural area that if I get the urge to unwind the option is there.
I had been urging my husband to go apple picking with me for years now. I remember there was a farm very close to my house that I used to go to as a child. We would all sit on the back of a large tractor and go off into the orchard picking apples and pumpkins and coming back to the farm to drink warm apple cider and munch on freshly baked pies. Just thinking about it is making me all warm inside. It was those simple things I enjoyed, I see some children now who would think such an outing would be lame. In this day and age everything has changed and it makes me feel old. Taking a drive 45 minutes out of the city brings back so many memories and sort of gives you a reality check. We let go of our selfishness and just enjoy nature.
My husband eats up country living, he would have been content to stay in the country-ish city we were in before. He says it’s because he grew up in the desert (the Middle East) so everything there was man-made and new. No greenery, no trees, just sand and more sand. We’ve come to the compromise that once we settle wherever we will end up permanently has to be within 45 minutes of the countryside. I think I can handle that. After all, I am a country girl at heart.
Back to the apple picking, I have with so many apples I don’t know what to do with them. We got a little over zealous and picked way too many. I started off by making this caramel apple cake. Though it was delicious it only used up about 5 apples. If I make about 10 more, I might be able to use up all the apples. This cake is actually worth making 10 more times. It’s easy and the apple flavor really shines through. I added crushed nuts on top, which not only added extra flavor, but also made the cake look even prettier. It’s a rustic cake, it sort of reminds me of a clafoutis – very light and airy. Give it a go and make it with apples you’ve picked yourself.
Salted Caramel Apple Cake
*The consistency of reminds me of Dorie Greenspan’s Apple Cake.
1 cup Salted Caramel*
3 cups chopped apples, preferably baking apples, I used Spartan and Cortland
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
squeeze of lemon juice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
crushed nuts (any that you like – pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans), for garnish
confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
Mix together chopped apples, cinnamon, and lemon in a bowl. Next, combine with the caramel and set aside.
In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until light an airy. At this point, add in the eggs, one at a time and beat until combined. Add in the sour cream, milk, and vanilla.
Next, with the mixer on low-speed, slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the batter and beat until just combined.
Lay the apple and caramel mixture on the bottom of the springform pan and then lay the batter on top of the apples. Spread the batter evenly on top. Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. When done, remove the cake from the oven and let it sit at for 30 minutes before removing the springform pan. Invert the cake on the serving dish so that the apples are on top and then garnish with the chopped nuts and confectioners’ sugar.
*for the caramel I use this recipe and replaced the kosher salt with fleur de sel.