Monday, September 12, 2011

Baked Sunday Mornings: Caramel Apple Cake


It happened.  Overnight the seasons changed from Summer to Less-Summer here in the Phoenix Valley.    Just a few days ago we had weeks on end of every day climbing to 116^, but today, following a violent storm, we hit only 100^.  Humidity and cooler temps were the order of the day.

We emerged this morning to a wild mess of tree branches, leaves, trash, roof shingles, tipped over potted plants, etc.  The monsoon season is in force and with it, nature’s fury.  The storms come in the evening, usually bring just winds and dust storms, but last night the rain also came in a downpour, lasting only about 20 minutes and delivering an inch of rain.  That is a lot of water for the desert.  Our ground does not soak up raining on concrete.  Every neighborhood has a water retention park where this water runoff goes with every rain.  Our neighborhood gathers a “lake” of water; enough for kids to float on tubes or in small boats for the day.  And then it finally seeps down into the earth, replenishing our underground water reservoirs which are actually some of the largest in America.  We never conserve water in Phoenix.  Further south in Tucson, they do conserve , but we always have more than enough water for our needs.  We just pump it back up and then let it soak back down.

We even save toilet water.  Clean it up and pipe it to water golf courses or to supply “lake” communities.  They say it is clean enough to drink, but I wouldn’t consume it.  This water also seeps back into the ground.  Only 2 miles from our home there is a preserve for birds and small animals with several lakes with this type of water.  It is a beautiful area and now that it has cooled down, we’ll be going for walks and picnics at the preserve.

So, I’m in the mood to bake for Autumn.  We don’t really get the change of seasons, however some of our trees do lose their leaves about mid-December, giving us a wintry feel of sorts.   I get to experience raking leaves just before Santa arrives.

Caramel Apple Cake was perfect.  And while baking, the aroma from the spices...cinnamon, cloves, and allspice along with the applesauce really brought the smells of Fall.
Hubby and I were invited to a friend’s grand opening of his new auction house.  As a way to test all the equipment and to make sure everything is in working order for the first “real” auction scheduled in 2 weeks, family and friends had an auction for charity.  We were all asked to donate items that would be auctioned off award winning auctioneers...for fallen police families and for our local food bank.
I had put off until last minute finding something for Hubby and I to auction.  Hubby found some no longer used furniture at the office which was sold for a good price.  I decided to take baked goods.  Pumpkin cookies and the caramel cake.
I found containers that would only fit one layer, decorated, so that’s what I did.  I tripled the cake recipe, giving enough for 9 layers.   Then,I had only 20 minutes to frost and add the caramel, and box up all my baked goods and leave the house.  So, my decorating was not great, but OK.  A single layer 8 “ cake sold for an average of $12 and my boxes of cookies, with 20 cookies, also sold for about $12. Someone made cinnamon rolls and they went for $100.  2 women kept out bidding each other until the magic number was hit.  Fun and great for the charity giving.  The total dollars collected for my afternoon of baking was also quite good...much better than I had hoped.  I’m happy.

I don’t have a beautiful 3 layer cake to photo and show off, but we did get to try one of the cakes, it was delicious.  Moist and full of flavor.  I will make this one again.

I did not do well, however, with the buttercream frosting.  I brought the mixture to a boil and it had thickened, but the recipe is not clear as to what “thickened” thick?  I transferred the mixture to my mixer and beat it until cooled, but it was thinner with the beating and did not set up.  I was in a hurry, but took some time to refrigerate the mixture, hoping it would set up when cooled, did not.  I beat it some more, but this did nothing to thicken the frosting making it spreadable on the cake.  So, in desperation, I added powdered sugar...lots of powdered sugar to get a spreading consistency.  This made the flavor less buttery and just super sweet.  I added more caramel, but this thinned the frosting again, so more powdered sugar and less flavor. I was never happy with this frosting or with the instructions for making it.
By this time I had so much frosting that I took the leftovers after returning home, added lots of cream cheese, more vanilla, more caramel, and finally got a frosting that I like which I will use for cupcakes later this week.

When the recipe uses words like “proper consistency” I’d like to know what that really means.  Actually, for my hot AZ kitchen, which  stays at about 86^ when the oven is hot, I don’t think this recipe can set up.  The butter stays melted as does the caramel.  Even if refrigerated, it melts as soon as it is not refrigerated.

I’ll keep the cake, but make my own frosting for the future.

Anyway, I’m happy that my cakes did well at the charity auction, I’m happy with the flavor and texture of the cake, we love caramel so I’ll give my cake baking about a B grade this week.

I am really interested to see how all your frosting turned out and to see the beautiful cakes you have made.

And, God Bless America, especially as today is the 10 year date since 911.  I’ll write more about that later.


  1. Your cakes are beautiful! I love the idea of a "sweet" auction!

  2. Your cakes look beautiful! This frosting drives me crazy! It tastes great, but looks awful. I did get it just right for John's birthday cake, but never made the Grasshopper Bars because I got frustrated. I just saved the Ganache & used it on another cake.

    I wonder if the guys read our posts - it would certainly help them with the 3rd cookbook they're working on!

    I've been so delinquent on FFWD, but will make the chicken this week. I'm in the middle of Escrow on my (pre-John) townhome, so that's taken up a lot of time!

    I agree, the cake is great. I'm glad your auction went well - looking forward to seeing the cupcakes!

  3. wow! as if you triple the recipe! good for you, being so generous with your time and talent! I really liked your post. i'm always interested in how other people live... so interesting to me that you don't really experience changes in the seasons... here in Ontario it's so extreme!

  4. Your cakes look so delicious and professional!

  5. All your cakes are so beautiful! I am with you - the directions in BAKED leave a lot to be desired sometimes. I wondered the same thing - just how thick do they mean? :) What a super treat for everyone at the auction and I am so glad that you had a successful event.