Melting-Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

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Baking recipes usually frown on softer apples, and you can only eat so much fresh-made apple sauce….So we think you’ll be pleased to meet our Melting Apple Cake. (Melting, as in, the soft apples partially “melt’ into the cake as it bakes.)

Made with McIntosh, or whatever other soft-textured apples you have on hand, this is a very tall, rustic-looking, little-lopsided, fabulously-flavored and pleasingly-textured creation. We’ve paired it with maple-brown sugar frosting which has a caramel flavor that goes supremely well with the apples and spice in the cake. You can serve each layer on its own as three, one-layer, maple-frosted cakes, or, do as we’ve done and stack them into one, towering apple amazement. Either way, be forewarned: The cake doesn’t slice perfectly, due to all the apples, and there is one fussy bit: You’ll have to line the cake-pans with well-greased parchment—sides AND bottoms—as you would when making a fruitcake, to get the cakes to release from the pans properly.

Makes three, 9-inch layers

Melting-Apple Cake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (three sticks)
  • 3 cups granulated pure-cane sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 of a freshly grated nutmeg (or 1 tsp grated nutmeg)
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup room-temperature buttermilk
  • 6 cups medium-diced peeled McIntosh apples (or a mixture of softer-textured apples with whatever apples you have on hand–just try to include some of the softer-textured kind)

Maple Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly-packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt (to your taste)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups SIFTED powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Make cake: Peel, cored and medium dice enough McIntosh apples (or a mixture of any apple variety with some portion of softer-textured apples) to make 6 cups. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a large stand mixer, whip butter with sugar for five minutes until light-colored, volumized and fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt) sift, whisk or stir with fork to mix dry ingredients well. Alternating with the buttermilk, fold 1/3 of dry ingredients followed by 1/3 of buttermilk into the butter/sugar mixture, until all are incorporated. Stir in the diced apples. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Generously grease three 9-inch baking pans. Line the sides of each pan with a long, thin strip of parchment paper cut to fit. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment. Lightly grease the parchment (yes–you are greasing again, even though you already greased the pans). Fill each pan with equal amount of batter. Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes until tops of cakes spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick comes out without any trace of unbaked batter. If your oven rack is too small to allow all three pans on one rack, set racks as close to center of oven as possible and every 20 minutes, shift pans so that each one gets equal time on each rack level.
  4. Remove cakes from oven. Cool on racks.
  5. Make frosting: In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add brown sugar and maple syrup and heat over low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in salt. Add half-and-half and whisk, heat until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Sift in powdered sugar, whisking to incorporate until smooth and creamy. Frost cake while frosting is still hot and pourable.
  6. Assemble cake immediately after making frosting (it sets up very quickly!) If serving cakes individually as one-layer cakes, place cakes on three separate platters and pour maple frosting over the surface of each cake, allowing some of the frosting to pour over the sides. If serving the cake as a three-layer, place first layer on serving platter pour maple frosting over the surface, allowing some of the frosting to drip down the sides. Quickly repeat this process with the remaining two layers.

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