Sunday, November 18, 2012

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

We have been so busy with the work in the basement and I have used every moment not there on the quilt, that I haven't been cooking anything interesting. 

Our son in California emailed that he was going to our favorite Fall treat, Apple Hill.  Apple Hill is between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe in Placerville.  I think it used to be pear growing country until some blight took all the pear trees.  The farmers planted apples and started a grower's association and Apple Hill was born. There is a map showing all that is going on at each individual farm and even a shuttle to take you from place to place.

You can pick your own or buy from bins picked by others.  You can buy a Christmas tree, get pumpkins from a patch and watch your cider being pressed the old fashioned way.

Every apple related food is sold, from pies to fritters to caramel apples.  We used to have favorite farms, but there are about 50, so there is something for everybody.  Quite a few have craft vendors and face painting and one used to have helicopter rides!  It was our family tradition to go every year.

So our son's announcement brought back a lot of happy memories.  I had to go look up the Apple Hill Cake recipe that I had saved from the maps you could find all over the "hill".  I made a few changes based on other recipes I found on various sites and it was darn good, if I do say so myself.  It was so good, I had to send half of the cake off to the library to keep me from pigging out on the whole thing.  You would think all this work in the basement and no cooking would mean I was losing weight.  You would be wrong!  And as soon as I finish this and sew up a few squares, I am going to have ANOTHER piece.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
4 cups tart apple, diced (not optional.  apple cake, remember?)  I used Granny Smith
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda


Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a 9 X 13 pan with Pam and set aside.  Chop up a cup or so of walnuts.  I keep mine in the freezer so I chop them early and set them aside to thaw.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil and the sugars. Add the nuts if you decide to use them.


Put one cup of flour on top of the mixture.  Dump the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and soda on top and mix the whole thing in.  Then add the second cup of flour.  Feel free to sift everything together, but I didn't.


Peel the apple and dice the apples in a small dice.  I just made four cuts around the stem to remove the core and then diced them.  It took me 2 Gigantic apples, but 3 or 4 medium should do it.  My batter was a bit dry so I added a 1/4 cup milk.  If you already did it, don't do it again...unless yours still looks dry.  Then add a bit more and mix it in!


Fold in the apples and scrape the whole thing into the prepared dish.  Bake for 45 minutes and test with a toothpick to see if it's done.  A clean toothpick means done.    My old recipe called for one hour, but after 50 minutes it was a wee bit overdone and I should have taken it out a few minutes earlier.

Caramel Sauce.

This cake is just fine as it is.  You can add Cool Whip or powdered sugar.  But this Caramel sauce is really good and worth the minor effort.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
1/3 cup cream.  I used 1/2 and 1/2 and it was delicious.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the cream and the brown sugar.  Heat until bubbly.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. 


Poke a few holes in the cake so the sauce can soak in.  I used a wooden skewer.  When the cake has cooled a bit and the sauce has cooled about 5 minutes, drizzle about half over the cake.  I used a spatula to smear it evenly.  Then wait about 5 to 10 more minutes.  The sauce will thicken.  You can do it.  Start the tea if you need to do something.


Then spread the rest of the sauce on top and cut you a slice.  Good, right?  It only took a few minutes and the smoky caramel goodness really adds to the cake.  You don't have to make it.  I made it for years without the caramel, but I doubt I will make it without after this!

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