'Tis the Season

The beginning of the week had me seeing temperatures in the 60s. Now, we're just barely hitting 50 and gusts of wind and occasional rain are part of the autumn landscape. It's time to pull out heavy sweaters, mittens and scarves. It's also time to bake, cook and otherwise utilize our kitchens for warmth and comfort. To that end, today has been an intense cooking day. Early in the morning, my crockpot became home to a boneless turkey breast roast, several small squashes, two kinds of onions, carrots and more. That's dinner, along with warm French bread and some roasted garlic butter I made today as well. Maybe we'll have small bowls of the blackberry-applesauce I made with frozen blackberries from summer and eight apples from the mighty stash that was sent home recently with us from up north. And there will be dessert. A heavenly apple cake that's chock full of autumn's best.

I always have extra sauce that I serve on top of the apple cake. I spoon a little over and then microwave the plate for about 30 seconds. It becomes the perfect ending to any meal, but especially slow-roasted turkey with autumn vegetables. Jealous? Don't be … there's plenty of autumn cooking to be enjoyed by everyone. Happy weekend!

Maple-Walnut-Apple Cake with Brandy-Caramel Sauce

For the Cake:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped apples
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
For the Sauce:
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla. Beat until it is creamy, about two to three minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. The batter will be very thick. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a heavy spatula to fold in the walnuts and the apples until they are well incorporated. The batter will now be very thick.

Prepare a Bundt pan by spraying it heavily with non-stick baking spray. Spoon the batter into the pan and spread it evenly with the spatula or a spoon. Bake the cake for 5o minutes. Test with a toothpick. If a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, or with crumbs, then the cake is ready. If not, continue to bake for up to another 10 to 15 minutes, testing again every 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it rest in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool while you prepare the sauce.

In a small saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar and half and half. When the butter has melted and the ingredients are combined, allow it to come to a low boil. Allow the sauce to boil (watching it carefully) for three minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the brandy.

Place the cake on a serving plate and spoon the sauce onto the cake. If you should choose to, reserve ⅓ of the sauce to put on the cake just before serving.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: About an hour

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