Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

If you never do anything of value again, make this cake. All I can say about this little beauty is that it truly is every bit as good as it looks, and it will be repeated in my home for years to come. This recipe is a keeper, if ever there were such a thing! My sister was in town for a week, and I asked if she'd be interested in baking something together before she left. That's when she mentioned the cake on a recent Southern Living cover that caught her eye and caused her to buy the magazine. I don't know who to thank more - Southern Living for publishing the magazine or Home Depot for selling it. All I know is that someone somewhere did me a solid by bringing this cake into my life. Welcome to a recipe I hope will blow your mind as it has blown mine.

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Cream Cheese Filling
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake Batter
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped Gala apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)

Praline Frosting
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar (SIFT!)

1. Prepare Filling: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour, and vanilla; beat just until blended.

2. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.

3. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over Cream Cheese Filling.

4. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).

5. Prepare Frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooled cake.

I've mentioned my sister Betsy in several posts, but now I have photographic evidence that she exists. And now she's a real celeb because she's made it to Real Kitchen. Real Life.! Here, Betsy is using the Measuring Spoon Set to put her 2 tbsp. of flour in a Pinch Bowl for later use. One thing I love about baking with my sister is that she understands me unlike anyone else, and she gets that baking a cake without proper prep work is a no-go in my kitchen. When it comes to a recipe like this, one that's a little complicated and a lot of expensive, it's not worth the risk of adding multiple ingredients or leaving things out. This is especially important when baking with sisters because you get distracted by sister things and lose track of what's been done. Be safe, not sorry, just say no, and don't jump off a bridge just because others are doing it. Proper prep for fab results!

These are pecans. I'm going to toast them in a Medium Bar Pan, and then I'm going to finely chop them in a Manual Food Processor. These pecans, in return, are going to make my house smell like a little piece of heaven... the piece where pecans are toasted.

Quick shout-out to the Spice Turn-About! When it comes to recipes like this, the ones where you need multiple spices, it sure is nice when you can just spin until you find them. No more knocking fifty bottles out of the cabinet to find the all-spice!

Get your spice blend ready ahead of time, and you're ready to go when it needs to be added. Betsy prepped all of this with Pinch Bowls, Measuring Spoons, and an Adjustable Measuring Spoon. Her station is set up on a Cutting Board for less mess on my limited counter space... AKA: my stove. The cinnamon, by the way, is Korinje Cinnamon from the Pampered Pantry. It's the best cinnamon in the world, and I promise it takes recipes from good to great.

"Betsy, you've got to smell this!"

Apple time!!! Don't you love baking with apples? This is when it really hits that the seasons have changed, and the afternoons are crispy-cool. Ok, so I'm peeling the apples with the Vegetable Peeler, and then I'll move them through the most efficient apple station known to man. Prepare yourself to see 3 cups of chopped apples happen in no time flat!

I peeled the apples, and then Betsy wedged them using the Apple Wedger. Our highly effective station was set up on the Large Cutting Board across my sink. Let me say this about the Apple Wedger: Don't make pie without it. See why?

Apple wedges are in a Stainless Mesh Colander after getting a little touch-up from the 3 1/2-inch Paring Knife, and then they go in the Manual Food Processor to become "finely chopped" before getting dumped in the Small Batter Bowl for measuring. The Mini Mix 'n Scraper in the Small Batter Bowl is specifically designed for the Manual Food Processor, by the way. Hello, cooking with apples!

One thing I like about this recipe is that the cream cheese filling is the only thing for which you need a mixer. The cake batter and icing are just done with spoons and whisks. I'm Jenny, and I'm into the simple things. Ok, so the filling is in a Stainless Mixing Bowl, and I'm adding flour from a Pinch Bowl. Behind this, you can see other ingredients measured into 1-Cup Prep Bowls, 2-Cup Prep Bowls, and Measuring Cups. The Double-Strength Madagascar Vanilla is one reason we got such a good, rich flavor in this filling as well as the frosting. It's amazing, and it only requires half-measurements because it's double-strength... four ounces just became eight.

Thick batter is no match for Betsy or her Bamboo Spoon. This is the point when Betsy and I knew we had a winner because this batter was absolutely amazing! I guess this is when I should mention my disclaimer about consuming raw eggs, but I don't have one of those. Eat this batter, people! It's so good!

Enter: Stoneware Fluted Pan. If you don't have this pan, let me encourage you to get one right now. I've had customer after customer tell me what a difference this has made in their pound cakes, etc. Stoneware = even heat distribution = beautiful, moist cakes = you're someone's hero. Betsy used the Medium Scoop to get the cream cheese batter on top of the cake batter (only 2/3 for now, mind you), and she was able to leave the border around the outside. That's important to keep from having cream cheese stick out the sides of your cake.

See what I mean about the Stoneware Fluted Pan's results? When using this pan, wipe it with a bit of butter or shortening, but don't spray it with Pam. Bake your cake, let it rest about 15-20 minutes in the pan, and run a Skinny Scraper around the sides. Then flip the cake onto a Cooling Rack, and you're good to go! Here I've got the icing ingredients in a 3-Qt. Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection, and I'm going to "constantly stir" with the Stainless Silicone Whisk. This thing has saved me many a pan scratch!

I love my sister, but I love her even more when she's holding a Square Plate full of apple-cream cheese bundt cake! This really was a fun cake to make, and it's going to be on repeat in my recipe binder for sure! Grab your sister, have a good laugh, and bake a cake!

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  1. Should this cake be refrigerated if I'm not going to serve it immediately?

  2. Since the cream cheese mixture contains egg, I refrigerated mine. I really think it would be ok either way, and it's definitely best served room temperature. Let me know how you like it!