Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving, Part 1

Is it Passover right now?

I ask because my kitchen is rich with the aroma of chicken stock on the stove as I write this.  Oh wait, it’s Thanksgiving.

In truth, there isn’t much difference between the two holidays now is there? They are both about giving thanks and being grateful.

Of course, if you really want to be grateful, then thank me for the recipe I’m about to detail for you. It’s the Caramel Apple Cake that I used to make at Watershed and it would make a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. If you haven’t already done your shopping, go out immediately with the ingredients for this at the top of your grocery list. You still have time to make it!

CARAMEL APPLE CAKE (adapted from Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis’ The Gift of Southern Cooking”)

For the cake:
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 cups peanut or vegetable oil
4 eggs, extra-large
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 nutmeg, grated
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
7 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I use Granny Smiths)
2 cups pecans, chopped

Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

Place sugars in a large bowl. Add oil and whisk to blend. Add eggs, one at a time and whisk to blend as well. Add vanilla and incorporate.

Place salt, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda over egg mixture. Use a wooden spoon to incorporate ingredients. Stir in apples and pecans.

Turn mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 1 ¼ hours or until top of cake is puffed and golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove to a cooking rack and run a spatula around sides. Let cool for 15 minutes, then turn out on a baking sheet. Invert again onto a serving platter or cardboard rectangle. Spoon glaze over and let it set before cutting and serving.

For the glaze:
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ lb. unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir lightly to combine sugars. Place over medium heat for 4 minutes. Stir, then cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until large bubbles appear on the surface. Cool for 15 minutes, then stir and spoon over cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Yield: 12 – 16 servings

As usual, I have a few things to say:

  •  As I was peeling the apples, I was reminded of "Sleepless in Seattle" when Meg Ryan peeled that   apple  in one long strip.  Haha, I can do that!  Does that mean I get to hook up with Tom Hanks?

  •  Speaking of apples, don't be daunted by peeling and coring 7 of them.  Here's the restaurant trick:  cut off the stem and core ends.  Remove skins with a vegetable peeler.  Use a sharp knife to cut down and around the core in four quick cuts.  Cut the remaining flesh into cubes.  That's it, you're done!

  •  Take the time to grate the nutmeg.  It will be worth it.

  • When you combine the apples with the cake batter, you will think that the proportions are wrong.  It will look like there are too many apples for the batter.  Get over it.  The apples will shrink as they bake and it will all even out at the end.  Trust me.

  • Oh, and you won't need to visit the gym on the day that you make this cake.  Your pecs will get worked out enough by stirring all of this together.  Trust me on that one, too.


  1. Beautiful. The description that there looks like too many apples for the batter iongot me -- that is exactly what i want out of an apple cake. Before i bake, questions: am i serving this warm or can i bake ahead, and if the latter, do i wait to pour over the caramel? I plan to cut the recipe down then make individual little cakes -- any foreseeable problems? Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Hi Michele,

    This cake is best served two to three days out - it allows the flavors to marry and it is sooooo much better when allowed to sit for a day or two. At the restaurant, we would serve it on Day 1, if needed, but it was much better on Day 2 or 3. You could even bake the cake(s) two or three days out, then glaze them a day ahead. Hope this helps!