Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar FrostingSomething Wicked This Way Comes…For Now

Halloween has me a little concerned this year. In the past, costume planning started in January. This year serious planning didn’t start until September. Well, except for my daughter; she still started planning in January. She will be going as a hamster. Without the human-sized hamster ball though. She’s totally bummed…and, yes they do make human-sized hamster balls.

The boys were seriously less enthusiastic. Getting them to commit was worse than pulling teeth, and the ideas kept changing from day to day. Scooby Doo and Shaggy were their first options. Frankly, I thought it was an awesome idea, but my opinion may be why it was nixed immediately.

One of the boys wanted to be this blow up ostrich thing—just too weird. (Really? Who comes up with these?) The other one was first thinking about being a caveman, and then the lime green unitard guy…ummmm, no!

The good news? No blood and guts for 2014. Instead we have a Spartan (that in no way resembles Tommy Trojan. I made sure of that. Go Ducks!), a nerd, and of course a hamster named Peanut—complete with a bag of peanuts. (This is an essential part of the costume as is the sign that says:  Hi, my name is Peanut. My daughter is nothing, if not thorough.)

All of this semi-drama leads me to believe that it might be the last year for Halloween fun, at least for the boys. This goes way beyond the usual complaining when I take pictures of them in their costumes before school. Next year they hit Middle School and the innocence of the Buzz Lightyear costume morphs into I’m too cool for school. What-evs! And bring on the T.P. mischief.

I’m not ready for it to be over. Next thing you know we will loose Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Total childhood anarchy. I refuse to accept it. So I have been self-medicating with cake.

I made this one over the weekend. It seemed to help…

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

2 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples
1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla-butternut flavor

Preheat the oven to 325°F, and grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Make the cake
Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl.

Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly.

Toast the nuts by placing them in a single layer in a cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 6 to 9 minutes, until they’re golden brown and you can smell their toasted aroma.

Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.

Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don’t remove the cake from the pan.

Make the frosting
Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts.

Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.

To guarantee lump-free frosting, sift confectioners’ sugar before adding to the butter mixture. Usually all the lumps disappear as you beat the frosting—but to guarantee no lumps at all, sift the sugar first.

After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat well. If the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

Yield: about 2 dozen servings.

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