“You owe me one.”

That’s what chef said to me last night as he was assigning out recipes for the evening. I was ready to volunteer to make anything else on the menu other than dessert, even the pain in the ass crab soup,  after last week’s gingerbread debacle. He had other things in mind.

“I think we all know who is in charge of dessert tonight, ” he said as he looked me right in the eye. “You owe me one.” And just like that, I was making Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze.

So off I went to the bake shop to get the pans, then back to the kitchen to get something into the oven as quickly as possible and start working on the back-up just in case the first one failed again. Why did the gingerbread collapse last week? Because I didn’t mix it long enough. At home, I don’t have a stand mixer. I do everything by hand, so I mix and mix and mix those cake batters to death. I assumed that the mixing time would be shorter with the stand mixer, but as it turns out, that’s not the case. My batter was under mixed and my cupcakes fell. Simple as that.

So, this week, I took that lesson to heart and built in plenty of time for mixing. Also, instead of doubling the recipe up front, I simply made the recipe twice (well, one and a half times). I’m not the best at math and while doubling a recipe sounds pretty simple, it’s actually really easy to screw one up if your math isn’t spot on.

This recipe as it’s written is meant for a bundt cake pan, but feel free to just make two 8 inch layers instead. I ended up doing a full bundt cake, plus half the recipe for another single layer cake.

Equipment:
2 Mixing bowls and a spoon and your stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one
measuring cups and spoons
sifter
medium sized pot
pastry brush (a cheap 25 cent paint brush from Home Depot is fine)
small bowl
bundt pan, tube pan, or two 8 inch cake pans

Ingredients:
For the cake:
1 C unsalted butter at room temperature
2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
3 C All Purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2 C unsweetened applesauce
1 C raisins
1 C coarsley chopped walnuts

For the glaze:
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/4 C evaporated milk

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease and flour your cake pan(s).

Sift together the 10 oz (about 2 and 1/3 cups) flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. Set aside. Dredge the nuts and the raisins in the remaining flour so they’re well coated. This will help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and mix in well.

Alternate adding the applesauce and the sifted ingredients a bit at a time, mixing each addition in very well before adding the next, until all of it is incorporated and the batter is well mixed. (see? now i’m obsessed with mixing until my arm falls off!)

blog_mix

Fold the raisins and nuts into the batter. Pour into your prepared pan(s), making sure the batter is evenly distributed.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester or skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. My bundt cake took about an hour and ten minutes.

Allow to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then carefully loosen the sides and invert onto a rack to continue cooling for another 30 minutes or so. This is a pretty moist cake, so it’s important to let it cool completely so it doesn’t fall apart on you when you try to cut into it.

While the cake is cooling, you can make the glaze.

Put at least a cup or so of cold water in the small bowl.

Combine the evaporated milk, the brown sugar, and the butter together in a pot over medium low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Keep stirring (not too vigorously) as the mixture starts to cook. You want it to reach soft ball stage, or about 220° – 235° on a candy thermometer.

blog_caramel
Wash down the sides of the pot with your cold water and the pastry brush if you start to see the sugar crystallize on the sides.  You want to re-dissolve those crystals into the caramel before they have a chance to fall off in a big chunk into your mixture. Once that happens you have to start all over because just one little seed crystal can set the whole she-bang to solidifying. On top of having ruined the caramel, it becomes a giant pain in the tookus to clean the pan because it all seizes up into brown concrete.

When the caramel reaches the right temperature and consistency (drizzle-able? is that word? i think i just made it one), remove the pot from the heat and beat it with a whisk or a spoon until it thickens. If your cake isn’t ready to come out of the oven yet, leave the pot on the warm stove top while you wait so it doesn’t get too cool. You’ll probably have to give it another quick stir before you glaze your cake with it.

Once your cake is cool, it’s time to serve!

This is the bundt cake…

blog_bundt

annnd here’s the other single layer cake…

blog_singlecake

As you can see, both are pretty delicious looking, so go with whatever works for the way you want to serve it.

I feel pretty vindicated this week… so vindicated, in fact, that I’m thinking I’m going to use this recipe for cupcakes to sell at our Blogger Bake Sale in a few weeks. Just a reminder, if you’re in the Denver area on May 2nd and want to stop by, feel free! If you are out of state and would like to hold your own bake sale, just join the team! Orrr… if you just want to contribute some cash to the cause, I won’t turn down your money!

Click here for all the details.

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