Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Apple Mini Cakes

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Happy First Day of Fall! For me, fall evokes lots of baking and use of seasonal ingredients. My favorite fall ingredient? Apples! I recently received the King Arthur Flour catalog in the mail and the first thing that caught my eye was a recipe for an Apple Skillet Cake on the front inside cover. What was interesting about the recipe was it's use of "boiled cider."
Boiled Cider: With the intense, robust flavor of just-picked apples, Vermont boiled cider is all natural apple cider, boiled into a thick, pourable syrup. Use as an accent in pie or crisp. Drizzle it atop cake, ice cream, or oatmeal. Make your own cider: Add 1 tablespoon boiled cider to 3/4 cup water, hot or cold. - taken from page 33 of the Fall 2009 King Arthur Flour catalog.
I was intrigued. But rather than paying $10.95 for a 16 oz. bottle of boiled cider, I decided to try making my own. Clearly experimental, I took a half gallon of apple cider and boiled it down in a saucepan until it evaporated about 75%. At this point, it still had the consistency of apple cider when I was expecting it to thicken to a syrup. Figuring that the cider needed some sugar to get to a syrup consistency, I added 1/3 cup of sugar and continued to let it boil down. After about 7-10 minutes of boiling, I turned off the heat and checked it again. Success! The cider had a nice, syrupy consistency that seemed to thicken as it cooled. The flavor was intense, similar to maple syrup with a pronounced apple flavor. I guess boiled cider isn't too much effort to get and since my cider cost me less than $3 to get about a cup (8oz) of boiled cider, I think I did pretty well.

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Apple Mini Cakes
recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Seasoned apples:
4-5 large apples (I used Gala apples), cored & diced
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons boiled cider (see above)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Cake batter:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm whole milk
1 large egg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sparkling sugar for garnish (optional)



Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. (Alternately, you can use muffin liners.)

Combine all the ingredients for the seasoned apples in a medium bowl; set aside.

Combine all the cake batter ingredients in a large bowl.
Using a large scoop, fill each muffin well with cake batter up to 3/4 full. You will probably have enough leftover for 2 additional cakes, which you can use if you want by filling 2 additional wells in another 12-cup muffin pan.

Spoon the seasoned apple mixture into the muffin wells on top of the cake batter. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar, if desired.

Place the prepared muffin pan into the preheated oven and bake for 20-23 minutes, until the tops are light brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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