Autumn Eating Part 3: Cakes

by CSWSmovie

All photos by the talented Elena Parker. You can also check out her videos on Food52.

I’m currently facing a pile of deadlines so intense, I’ve resorted to plastering several bedroom walls with large to-do lists – a method I employed when I was a college senior, trying to finish my thesis. Let’s just say I’m not in the most zen-like state of mind at the moment, and that the deafening noise coming from the apartment construction right above isn’t helping much.

So what do you do in times like this?

You invite friends over; you make cake.

Or in my case, cakes. I haven’t decided which of these I like better, but I can say that I love them both. The Apple Cake is a go-to standard in our apartment, made more than a few times each autumn season and hands down Terence’s favorite dessert that I make. A glance through the volume of comments should impress upon you that this isn’t an individual obsession – this cake is loved by many.

The sweet-potato bundt cake, with its long list of ingredients and seemingly complicated set of instructions, was a first for me to make, but wow, did Luisa discover something great. I’m not a huge sweet potato OR raisin person, but this flavor combination might be one of my new favorites. And heed her warning about the glaze; you really will want to eat it by the spoonful. Between me and you though, that’s really more than ok. Just make sure you save some of it for the cake – and for the times in your life when the ceiling above you seems like it just might collapse.

Favorite Apple Cake

recipe via Smitten Kitchen

6 apples, (I use a mix of green and gala, Deb’s mother uses McIntosh)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs

Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with Rum-soaked Raisins and a Spiked Brown Sugar Glaze

Recipe by Regan Daley, found via The Wednesday Chef

¾ cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dark rum, plus more if needed
3 cups flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for salting the water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 large sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon reserved rum from cake recipe

1. Peel sweet potatoes, cut them into chunks, place in salted water, bring to a simmer and cook until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and let dry for a few minutes, then mash coarsely. Measure 2 cups of sweet potatoes and reserve.

2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, in a nonreactive bowl, soak raisins in the rum for at least 30 minutes. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted Bundt pan.

4. In a mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs to break them up, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vegetable oil and vanilla. Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Add ¤ cup of the rum to the batter. Add the sweet potatoes and mix until thoroughly combined.

5. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk (start and finish with the flour). Fold in raisins. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for 80 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack.

6. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze: Mix the sugar, butter and cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens somewhat, 3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and add about 1 tablespoon of reserved rum (add fresh rum, if needed).

7. Set the cake and cooling rack over a baking sheet. With a toothpick, punch holes all over the cake. Pour 1/3 of the glaze over the cake. Wait 15 minutes, then pour the remaining glaze on top. You must glaze the cake while it’s hot. Allow cake to cool completely.