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Day Nine: William Tell’s Never-Miss Apple Cake

This is Day Nine in a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series.IMG_0617

The recipe for this delicious moist apple cake, with a cream cheese center and an easy caramel topping, is one of our favorites to pull out each fall. The cake itself is full of apple, shredded carrot, and pecans in every bite. All of the best autumn flavors! Several times this cake has been the birthday cake choice, and it is always a gorgeous presentation. Here are more detailed directions, with the full recipe at the end of the post.

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For the cheesecake ribbon, beat a brick of cream cheese until fluffy.

 

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Add 1/4 cup sugar.

 

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And 1 egg.

 

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Beat until smooth and creamy.

 

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Perfect! Set it aside.

 

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For the cake: beat together the oil (or use half oil, half applesauce), 1  3/4 cup sugar, and 3 eggs.

 

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Beat it until it’s good an’ frothy!

 

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In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

 

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Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture.

 

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And beat it until it’s combined.

 

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Lovely!

 

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Add the chopped apple, shredded carrots, and pecans!

 

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Fold it together!

 

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Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan. Time to put this cake together!

 

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Spoon most of the batter into the pan.

 

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Then scoop the cream cheese filling by little spoonfuls around the center of the cake, being careful that it doesn’t touch the pan.

 

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Spoon the rest of the batter over the cream cheese filling.

 

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Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick.

 

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Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Absolutely lovely!

 

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For the caramel icing, combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan.

 

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Stir it until it’s smooth.

 

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Let it come to a boil, stirring it occasionally. When it’s boiling, cook and stir it for 1 minute.

 

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Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until the icing is smooth.

 

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Gorgeous!

 

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Drizzle over the cake. The icing will cool and harden quickly, so be sure to work fast!

 

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Scatter pecan pieces across the icing, and press them in gently, so they stay put.

 

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William Tell’s Never-Miss Apple Cake

Cream cheese Filling:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
Apple Cake:
1 cup oil (may reduce to 1/2 cup and substitute applesauce for the amount you leave out)
1  3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Caramel Icing:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. 2% milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans

For cream cheese filling, in a small bowl beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in egg; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat oil, 1  3/4 cup sugar, and 3 eggs until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients; gradually beat into oil mixture until blended. Stir in apples, carrots, and pecans.

Transfer half of the apple batter to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan; layer with cream cheese mixture and remaining apple batter. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50-60 minutes or until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, in a large saucepan bring the brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cake. (Icing will cool and harden quickly.) Sprinkle with pecans.

Yield:   12 servings

 

Let us know how this cake turns out for you!! 🙂

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

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Day Eight: Caramel Apple Slices

This is Day Eight in a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series.IMG_0337

Caramel apples are one of the most traditional fall treats out there, second only to pumpkin pie. However, most of us (including myself, I must admit) are a bit intimidated at the thought of making caramel at home. Doesn’t it always burn, or harden beyond edibility? And doesn’t it require rare ingredients that are difficult to obtain? Not this recipe! It’s super easy, and it didn’t burn for us, and we had all of the ingredients loafing in our kitchen. Most other caramel recipes call for heavy whipping cream, which we rarely keep on hand because it spoils so quickly; this gem of a recipe uses sweetened condensed milk instead. And anyway, wouldn’t most of us rather drink pure sweetened condensed milk than heavy whipping cream? No? Okay, maybe that’s just me. 😉

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First of all, we prepared all of the toppings that we wanted to dip the caramel apples in. We chose bright fall sprinkle decorations, chopped walnuts, chopped chocolate chips (or mini chips), and chopped fall-colored M&Ms.

 

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For the caramel, we place the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium sized sauce pan with a heavy bottom.

 

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Then we add the sweetened condensed milk.

 

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Stir it together over medium heat. We were simply frantic when we saw some brown specks after about 30 seconds, but (to our extreme relief) the caramel hadn’t burned. So don’t be too hasty in throwing it away if it’s starts looking speckled. For we know: waste not; want not!

 

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Stir it until the caramel is silky smooth. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan, too.

 

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When the caramel starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to watch and stir until the thermometer reads approximately 248 degrees F.

 

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When the temperature is at 248 degrees F., remove from heat and stir in a splash of vanilla extract.

 

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Superbe. See that rich color? It looks just like…well…caramel!

 

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Slice a few crisp apples.

 

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Place them somewhere easy to reach. You can dip them in lemon juice, if you wish.

 

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This is where the fun starts! We dipped each slice halfway into the caramel, but you could do almost any style. I think it would be cute to put them on little skewers and completely cover them.

 

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Then dip the caramel end of the apple into any of the toppings that you prepared earlier.

 

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Set the caramel-dipped apples on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and allow them to cool.

 

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Cute!!

 

Here is the full recipe.

Caramel Apples

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (Note: We just used about half of a 14 oz. can)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 or 3 large tart apples

In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and milk; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until mixture reaches 248 degrees F. (firm-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to keep it from scorching. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Slice apples into desired sizes. Dip each slice into hot caramel mixture, turning to coat. Decorate with favorite toppings (sprinkles, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.) Set on parchment paper to cool.

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

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Day Seven: Apple Butter

This is Day Seven of a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series.

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Apple butter is a beautiful old-fashioned preserve that is super simple to make! Using a slow cooker makes it easy to leave it for a while without being too fearful of it burning.

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Measure the sugar and spices into a bowl.

 

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Cinnamon

 

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Aww, it’s a heart. 🙂

 

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Salt

 

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Cloves. Then mix the dry ingredients together.

 

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Chop five pounds of apples into a three quart slow cooker. (We figured three medium apples equaled about one pound.)

 

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Then stir the sugar combination in to the apples. We split the apples in half to make it easier to stir!

 

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Oh, it tastes so, so good at this stage!!

 

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Cover and cook on high for one hour.

 

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Leaving the lid on, cook on low for 9-11 hours, until it’s dark brown and thickened.

 

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When it is dark brown, uncover and cook on low for 1 hour. When it is done, you can mash it with a potato masher to make the texture a bit more smooth and spreadable. This will also thicken the apple butter considerably.

 

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Serve with piping hot biscuits or toasted bread. Or get creative, and serve it over vanilla ice cream or stir it into a smoothie!

 

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All-Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds apples, peeled and finely chopped (basically, just fill the 3-quart crock pot full of finely chopped apples)
4 cups sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place apples in a 3-qt. slow cooker. Combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; pour over apples and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 9 to 11 hours or until thickened and dark brown, stirring occasionally (stir more frequently as it thickens to prevent sticking). Uncover and cook on low 1 hour longer. If desired, stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Cover and refrigerate or freeze. Yield: 4 pints

 

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

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Day Six: Apple Oatmeal Cookies

This is Day Six in a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series!

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Our older sister Rebecca shared the recipe for these yummy apple cookies with us. She wouldn’t share the cookies. Just the recipe. And only after we begged. Since they have a cake mix base, they are super easy to throw together, and they taste just like fall!

We mix quick oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon into the dry cake mix. Then we add an applesauce/chopped apple mixture to the dry ingredients, stir it up, and bake them! Here is a more specific look at each step. 🙂

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Begin by pouring the dry cake mix into a large bowl. You will not be following the directions on the back of the box. Just this once, you can rebel!! 😉

 

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Measure the quick-cooking oats…

 

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…the brown sugar…

 

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and the cinnamon…

 

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and add them all to the bowl of dry cake mix.

 

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Such lovely shades of brown and cream!

 

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Combine the dry ingredients thoroughly.

 

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It’s okay if there are some lumps of brown sugar or cake mix. Actually, if you see lumps of brown sugar, pick them out and eat them. They taste fantastic! ❤

 

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Measure the applesauce. We used homemade chunky applesauce, because that was what we had on hand. It was already sweetened, but unsweetened applesauce would have been a better choice: fewer calories and a bit less sweetness in the cookies!

 

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Peel an apple (or two, depending on the size) and chop it finely.

 

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Place the applesauce…

 

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…and the chopped apple in a small bowl.

 

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Mix them together.

 

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Then add the apple mixture to the dry ingredients. At this point, the original recipe calls for raisins, but we skipped them. You can, too, if you wish.

 

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Stir it up until all the dry ingredients have been completely incorporated into the wet. Or vice versa. It might seem hopelessly dry, but keep stirring. You would regret adding too much moisture.

 

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A spatula is helpful at this point. Just keep mixing it by hand like that.

 

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Grab a spoon and sample a bit of the cookie dough.

 

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Invert the spoon and sample some cookie dough using the spoon’s handle.

Then bend the spoon in half and use the middle part to sample the dough again.

Just kidding.

Or not.

 

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Spoon the cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. You can make tiny cookies for lower calorie servings, or big ones. Because this recipe uses oatmeal, the cookies are quite satisfying. We used a small tablespoon size and got average-size cookies.

 

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Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12-14 minutes.

 

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And here is the full recipe!

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

1 package (18 1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup finely chopped peeled apple
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, combine the applesauce, apple, and raisins (if desired). Stir into oats mixture and mix well. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle

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Day Five: DIY Apple Centerpiece Candle Holders

This is Day Five in a 9 day series featuring apples. Click here to start reading at the beginning of the series.DSCN1390

For today’s apple post, we are sharing a DIY craft instead of a recipe! We took apples from our own trees in the yard, made a small round hollow in the center of each one, and slipped a tea light candle inside to make these lovely autumn candle holders. This is a project that we girls have been wanting to try for several weeks, and since they turned out so well, we decided to include them in our apple series. We didn’t get photos of the process because it is fairly simple and straightforward, but we will list the steps involved at the end of the post.

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Here they are in the dark. I love the reddish glow!

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They would make a gorgeous centerpiece for an autumn meal or celebration, like Thanksgiving.

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They are even pretty when the candles aren’t burning. The wax occasionally spills down the side, in an artistic way.

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We tried two different methods for making the round hollow for holding the tea light candle.

First, I tried using a sharp knife. It worked, but it left jagged edges and the hole wasn’t as round as I would have liked.

For the second method, we used a spoon, which worked really well because it was rounded but still sharp enough to pierce through the apple’s skin. I would suggest this method, because I think it is safer than using the knife, as well as being more accurate.

To keep the inside of the apple from discoloring, you can try rinsing it with a little bit of lemon juice, just like you normally would for apple slices.

The candles are from Partylite in the Vanilla Shortbread scent, which smells SO yummy! We were able to pop the wax candles out of the plastic holder that they come in, and insert it directly into the candle. We’ve found that Partylite candles burn very clean, and they have an amazing variety of scents!

Last of all, light the candles and enjoy this beautiful autumn decoration!

This project took us only a few minutes for each apple, and cost us very little because (a) the apples were from our trees, and (b) the candles were from Mom’s stash and we love to burn them!

Let us know if you try carving a few apples, too! We would love to hear about your twist on this project.

Thank you for visiting A Homespun Country Life!

~Kerstin, Elisabeth, and Gabrielle