I’m not sure what possessed me to make this cake. It’s fruit, fruit, and then oh yeah, more fruit which is definitely not the kind of dessert that I’m usually drawn to. But the moment I saw this recipe, I knew I needed it.
Maybe it was the brandy. Maybe it was the brown sugar sauce. I don’t know what it was but oh my goodness, I am so happy that I decided to make it! It’s sticky and chewy and the raisins just burst in your mouth with brandy flavor. The sauce? I will pour it on everything I eat for the rest of my life.
I thought I had burnt the cake when it pulled it out because it was so dark but don’t fret if I make it, it’s supposed to look that way. It’s caramel-y and delicious and pretty much perfection in (fruity) cake form. I’m already dying to make it again!
2 medium-sized tart apples, such as Northern Spy or Rome Beauty, cut into ½”" inch pieces
For the brown sugar sauce:
⅓ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅔ cup heavy cream
2-1/2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
To make the cake:
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the brandy for 45 minutes. Add the dried apple pieces and macerate for a further 15 minutes. Do not drain!
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan and line the bottom and up the two long sides with a sheet of parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the edges by an inch or so. Lightly butter the paper.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
In a large bowl with a hand held electric mixer or whisk, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend both sugars. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until thickened and pale, about 2 minutes with a machine, 4 to 5 minutes by hand. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to blend. Fold in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just enough to moisten most but not all of the flour. Add the dried fruit and brandy mixture and diced fresh apple, then fold them into the batter with long, deep strokes. Don’t fret about the ratio of fruit to batter — there is a remarkable amount of fruit but it bakes into a wonderfully chewy cake.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and set in the center of the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the center springs back when lightly touched, a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Serve warm with the brown sugar sauce.
To make the sauce:
Combine the butter, sugars and cream in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir this mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a very gentle boil, stirring all the while. Cook 5 more minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy, if using. Serve immediately, or cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. To rewarm, either microwave the uncovered sauce on low power or transfer the cold caramel to a saucepan and stir over low heat until warm.
The weather is starting to cool down, the leaves are getting ready to change… you know what that means? It’s time for apple pie and caramel apples and all the other delicious treats that you can make with apples.This month I am participating in the Progressive Party over at Kitchen Play and it happens to be centered around everyone’s favorite fall fruit: the apple. Our sponsor, US Apple Association, is looking to show families that apples are not only healthy but also extremely versatile when it comes to mealtime.The apple has been around since the beginning of recorded history and has almost always been prized for its nutritional stats (and was one of the first prescribed antidepressants!). Today the apple is grown in every state in the continental US and you can find a downloadable guide to all the varieties on the US Apple Association site.I was asked to bring an appetizer to the Progressive Party which was really fun because I had to go outside of all the sweet ideas I typically have when it comes to apples. I came up with a really simple tart that includes blue cheese and walnuts and is finished with a drizzle of honey. It is slightly sweet but the blue cheese gives a nice contrast, as do the tart Granny Smith apples.
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed on the counter for about 30 minutes
2 large Granny Smith apples, sliced about Â¼-inch thick
¼ cup blue cheese
½ cup walnuts
honey, for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400F.
On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to approximately 9×13 inches. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, score the pastry 1 inch from the edges to mark a rectangle. Use a fork to pierce the dough at 1 inch intervals inside the rectangle markings. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Lay the apples in a single layer inside the rectangle markings. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle blue cheese over the apples and walnuts and bake for an additional 5 minutes, just until the cheese begins to melt.
Drizzle with honey before slicing and serve with additional honey.
The US Apple Association is also sponsoring a wonderful giveaway here at Kitchen PLAY. Simply recreate any one recipe from this month’s Progressive Party, post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter. All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win $100 (6 prizes total). The deadline is September 30, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!
I recently joined a couple other bloggers in the Side Car Series over at Kitchen Play. The Side Car Series is a fun project where bloggers all take the same product and come up with different ways to use it. This month is sponsored by Woolwich Dairy Inc. and the theme is holiday!
Woolwich Dairy is a goat dairy so I was stoked when I was asked to participate. I love goat dairy products because they are so much easier on our bodies than cows dairy but also because it’s just plain delicious.
This assignment was right up my alley and I knew almost immediately what I would be making for one of my recipes. I mean, what do you do with brie? You bake it and serve it with apples, of course! But what if you put the brie inside of an apple? Oh yes, I went there. I took big, beautiful Honeycrisp apples and stuffed them with brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and cranberries and then topped them with brie and a drizzle of honey.
The apples turned out so delicious! I was ridiculously excited when I cut into one and a cinnamon-y brown sugar syrup came pouring out. The best part, of course, was how the brie had melted down into everything and became so sweet.
Working with 1 apple at a time, take a paring knife and cut 1â€ circle around the stem of the apple and pop that cut section out. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and core of the apple. Do all 8 apples and place them in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and cranberries. Stuff the apples with the mixture. The brown sugar is going to become a sweet cinnamon-y syrup in the oven so stuff the animals good or the mixture will sink too much.
Take the round of brie and cut off one side of the rind. Using your fingers pull off small pieces and place them on top of the apples, completely covering the opening. Drizzle the honey over the tops of the stuffed apples.
Add the boiling water to the pan without disturbing the apples and bake 35 – 45 minutes or until apples are tender and slightly wrinkly. Remove from baking pan and serve hot.
The second recipe was a little more difficult for me because I generally don’t eat a lot of cheesy foods around the holidays. A cheesy holiday breakfast recipe though? I can do that!
A strata is great for holiday mornings because you can prepare it the night before and then the next morning all you have to is bake it when your kids are opening presents or looking for reindeer tracks. It’s also great for holiday mornings because you get to say, “Oh honey, I have to work on breakfast” and you can force your significant other to do all the last minute wrapping. That’s my plan at least.
This strata is perfection! The best way to describe it is to say it’s like a savory bread pudding. I loaded it with sausage, onions, and mushrooms and then layered in some Woolwich Dairy Goat Cheddar that became gooey and wonderful in the oven.
6.7 package of Woolwich Dairy Goat Cheddar, shredded
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sausage, breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once sausage is no longer pink and onions are translucent, transfer the mixture to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but about 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet. Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook until brown on both sides. Add mushrooms to the sausage mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs until one solid color. Whisk in milk, salt, pepper, and dry mustard.
Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with oil. Add half of the cubed French bread to the baking dish. Top with sausage mixture. Sprinkle evenly with shredded Woolwich Dairy Goat Cheddar. Add the remaining bread cubes to the top. Pour custard over the entire dish and press down with hands or large spoon on the bread gently to make sure everything is coated.
Put the strata in the refrigerator overnight to allow the bread to absorb the egg-mixture. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the dish for 50 – 60 minutes or until the strata is puffed and golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.