Before I hang up my winter baking hat for the season, I wanted to prepare a final beautiful, seasonal treat. This recipe from Bon Appétit circa March 1999 hits all of the warm and spicy notes I look for in a winter cake, and I took advantage of some leftover Wilton sugar sheets to decorate the top of the caramelized apples with Jack Skellington’s spider-snowflake “failure” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Though the recipe is a tad involved, the cake it produced (and its smell as it bakes!) is entirely worth the effort.
Winter Spice Cake with Caramelized Apple Topping
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
13 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
6 medium Golden Delicious apples (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, each cut into 6 wedges, cored
4 Tbsp plus 1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
1¼ cups all purpose flour
1¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom with foil; spray foil. Wrap outside of pan with foil.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Sauté apples until almost tender and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Increase heat to high and toss until sugar melts and apples are deep brown, about 4 minutes. Pour apple mixture onto large plate (do not clean skillet).
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup sugar and cook until mixture is deep golden brown, stirring often, about 7 minutes (mixture will be grainy). Add cream and vinegar (do not stir). Cover skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer without stirring until most of caramel bits dissolve, about 8 minutes. Uncover and whisk until sauce is slightly thick, deep brown and reduced to generous 1 cup, about 3 minutes longer. Pour caramel sauce into small saucepan.
Spread 3 tablespoons caramel sauce over bottom of prepared pan. Arrange apple wedges side by side, rounded side down, in caramel in 2 concentric circles. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into bowl. Beat 6 tablespoons butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl to blend (mixture will be grainy). Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla and 1/4 cup caramel sauce. Beat in half of dry ingredients, then sour cream, then remaining dry ingredients.
Spoon batter evenly over apples. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes.
Cut around cake; remove pan sides. Cool cake 15 minutes longer. Place platter atop cake; invert cake onto platter. Remove pan bottom and foil. Replace any dislodged apples. Rewarm remaining caramel sauce. Serve cake warm or at room temperature with sauce.
Dress: Laura Byrnes Lana Cocktail Dress in Red (sold out)
Lips: Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in American Doll
Brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW® Pomade in Soft Brown
Shoes: Pinup Couture Cutiepie Heel in Black Faux Suede
Earrings: Kate Spade New York Fame & Flowers Statement Earrings