I think pumpkin is one of the first flavors that comes to mind when I think of fall… Apples are a close second, especially when they are paired with spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Add caramel into the mix, and I am a very happy girl. So, naturally, I had to put my spiced caramel sauce to use in a fresh new apple recipe.
One afternoon a few weeks ago, I found myself working in the kitchen while watching Ina Garten cooking and baking in the background. I don’t find myself watching many cooking shows anymore, but there’s something about Ina that generally captures my attention. On this particular afternoon, she made an Apple Cake Tatin, as she called it… Apples nestled into freshly made caramel (as you would have if you were making a traditional tarte tatin), topped with a pretty standard cake recipe. I remember thinking it was an interesting idea, and then I went about my business making dinner and didn’t even really pay attention to how the cake turned out on the show. I like to watch Ina cook in the background, but I try not to let it affect my ability to make dinner. And, since we were having stir fry that particular evening, I chose to avoid burning dinner instead of giving Ina my full attention.
A few days later, though, I had the cake idea stuck in my head. We were headed to a game night with friends, and I had offered to bring a snack, so I decided to use Ina’s cake as inspiration and make a version of my own. Instead of searching for the original recipe from the show (which I finally looked up for the sole purpose of referencing it in this post), I opted to start with my grandmother’s coffee cake recipe that has always been a family favorite. And, since I already had a lovely jar of spiced caramel sauce in the fridge, I opted to use that instead of making a fresh batch of caramel. I layered the caramel with some nice tart apples we had received with our CSA share earlier in the week. Then, I also opted to spread a second layer of caramel in the cake batter for good measure.
I was quite pleased with how the cake turned out… It was dense and moist, just like the coffee cake recipe always is, laced with spiced caramel and topped with a layer of caramel and apples. It served well as a game night snack for our friends, and I admit that I enjoyed a slice for breakfast the next morning, as well. I’ll be making it again this fall, as soon as I get around to making another batch of caramel sauce. I’ll also be keeping it in mind for any holiday brunches in the future. It’s a keeper!
Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Makes a 9 by 13-inch cake, serves 16 – 20
(Inspired by Ina Garten)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup spiced caramel sauce, divided
- 4 – 5 tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. In a large liquid measuring cup (or another mixing bowl), whisk together the yogurt and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture alternately with the milk and yogurt mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just enough to incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter.
To assemble the cake, spread about half of the caramel sauce in the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Arrange the apple slices in rows on top of the caramel, using enough to cover the whole pan.
Spread half of the cake batter on top of the caramel and apples. Then, pour the remaining caramel sauce over the cake batter and smooth with a spatula. Spread the remaining cake batter over the layer of caramel.
Bake the cake for about 50 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.