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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake (and Prepare to Marathon!)

I have a complicated relationship with cake.

On one hand, it's (usually) totally bad for you.  On the other, it's (usually) delicious.

I've previously talked about my paternal grandmother, who was the town baker in a small town in Nebraska.  She was a terrible cook, but a brilliant baker.  You would suffer through her dinners to get to the dessert afterward, which was universally spectacular.

I love to bake, and can make a very good layer cake and great coffee cakes, quick breads and other less-complicated sweets.  However, I claim no mad skills (or should that be "skillz"?) when it comes to beautiful decorations or foo-foo sweets.

Last month, when I saw an invitation on FoodBuzz to join the Cake Slice Society, I totally jumped at it--a chance to work on my baking skills, plus see the work of lots of bakers more talented than I am?  Yes!  I am in! 

The point of the group is for far-flung food bloggers (say that fast three times) to bake the same recipe from the same cookbook once a month and post on the same day.

I made this cake for the pre-half-marathon dinner I went to last Friday.  It was pronounced good race fuel, and besides that it was wicked good.  It has the added bonus of holding up well for a few days.

Ah, fall in Alaska.  It'll last for about another five minutes.
As an aside, if you tell your spouse/partner/colleague that you just have to blog tonight or you won't meet your Cake Slice Society deadline, you may be mocked.

Pre-Marathon Apple Cake with Maple Frosting
Adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle

For the cake:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped*
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the frosting:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 cup pure maple syrup**

For the cake:

Start your oven to preheating at 350 degrees and make sure there is a rack in the middle.  Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray, preferably one with flour.

Combine and whisk the following ingredients in a medium bowl:  flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda and salt.

Look at me, being all organized.
Using an electric hand mixer and a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until it is creamy.  Add the sugar gradually and beat at medium speed until light in color.  Add the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down to make sure the entire mixture is blended.

Bring the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredient mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk.  When the mixture is blended, stop mixing and stir in the apples and walnuts by hand.

Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the baking pan and level the top.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  At that point, remove the cake from the oven and cool on a baking rack.

While the cake is baking, start the frosting:

Using an electric  mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until well-combined.  Add the vanilla, maple syrup and spices until just combined.  With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the powdered sugar until the mixture comes together;  then, increase the mixer speed until the frosting is fluffy.

Serves 12, even with people doing a half-marathon the next day.

*The original recipe calls for peeling the apples, too.  I was feeling busy and lazy at the same time (complicated, but true), so I didn't bother.  No one seemed to notice.

**The original recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of maple extract.  Being a dunce, I didn't have maple extract and added the maple syrup instead.  If this is wrong, I don't want to be right--the maple flavor was pure and natural. 


  1. It was my first cake on "The Cake Slice" too! and I loved it! I love baking the same thing with others who love baking as much as I do! plus it was a fun/delicious cake to bake! my cake is here:


  2. Dears is my first time too!!Love your cake look yumm!!! gloria

  3. I like seeing photos of the process of baking! Your cake looks delicious! I did the same thing as you, I used maple syrup instead of maple flavor. I like being wrong too!

  4. Yes please!! Love all things apple right now

  5. this is great! It is okay to leave the skin on? I am always scared to do that....thanks for sharing!

  6. This sounds and looks absolutely amazing! Love the big chunks of apple! Yum!

  7. Oh you had me at cream cheese frosting. Gotta admit, I have never made a apple cake, gonna try this one. My husband is from Delta Junction, he said citrus trees don't do well in AK, sure wish I could send some Meyer Lemons your way:) Thanks for visiting!

  8. Missy, leaving the skin on the apples gives them a little extra chew, which isn't everyone's cup of tea--I happen to like it. Just give the apples a scrub and cut away any nicks and you're good to go!

  9. Ha ha - my husband is resigned to my obsessive blogging now! He'll get used to it. :-)

  10. My husband always teases me for eating cold food because I spent twenty minutes trying to take pictures of it!

  11. This looks awesome! What better time to eat cake then then pre- half marathon!
    Still waiting for my husband to understand the need to blog on a deadline!

  12. The cake sounds awesome..... and the cake slice society sounds like a ton of fun. I love cake...but to be fair I love almost all desserts lol.

  13. Great to have you on board.

    Good idea to leave the peel on - I think it would add to the texture.

  14. This cake looks fabulous! With the maple good! Sounds like a fun club...and I think perhaps you got some of your grandmother's genes! : )

  15. Oh, spice cake with maple syrup in the icing, yummy. Yep fall last maybe 10min here too ;-)

  16. What a lovely sounds SO delicious! I look forward to your cake adventures!

  17. What a great opportunity to perfect your cake-making skills!! You're off to a great start because this cake looks delicious!

  18. Great post and a great cake from you!

    I used maple syrup too! no wonder the frosting tasted FAB!

  19. Your cake looks delicious. I'm sure it was a big hit with your friends. Welcome to the group :)

  20. I am not really into desserts but sure admire this apple spice cake you have shared, like that brownish finish of it, what more with the cheese frosting.

  21. Congrats on hooking up with the cake slice bakers! Your cake looks delicious-perfect for fall. I completely understand about the dedication to timely posting-my husband just doesn't get it either. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Oh, my this IS a winner!!! I just love a good apple cake and this one hits the mark!

  23. Great job on your cake and I agree that it does keep very well.

  24. I could never have enough apples cakes this one sounds yummy!

  25. Any excuse for making cake is a good one! This sounds delicious! I hope your half marathon went well :)!

  26. I love this cake, a perfect start to our new cookbook. Glad to know I can leave the skins on the apples for next time I bake this. Oh and I used maple syrup, too - totally ok :)

  27. I would skip the run but I would definitely not miss eating this! :)

  28. Love apple cake. I can almost smell the aroma of it now.