On the fourth day in November we are called to celebrate National Candy Day. It seems to me National Candy Day should be on Halloween. By November 4th, most of us are all candied out. But I’m not the one setting National Days.
Since today’s cake utilizes caramel sauce, that’s sort of in the candy domain, right? Caramels, caramel sauce – all that melted sugar. It’s not just candy overload that got me to baking. This cake is a part of what I hope will be a year-long project.
In September every year; our parish has its big fund raising festival. It’s a two-day evening event with games, food booths and live music. There’s even a Margarita Bar. Prizes are donated for the big raffle held on the second night of the festival. Hubby and I attended the festival on the first night, then worked the festival on the second night. We were volunteers at the Cake Walk.
If you aren’t familiar with a Cake Walk, people bring baked goods as prizes. These could be cookies, candies, or traditionally cakes. Chairs are arranged in a circle, each chair is numbered. People participating in the Cake Walk stand inside the circle of chairs. When the music starts, they walk in a circle. When the music stops, everyone sits in a chair. A number is drawn, and the person seated in the chair matching the number get to pick from the selection of baked goods. If there are not winners, we draw numbers until someone has won. So it’s a winner every time. Hubby was in charge of the music, I was in charge of getting people moving and drawing the numbers. Walking around in a circle seemed boring, and really didn’t draw in many participants. However; hooping and hollering and dancing around really got the crowds going. Since the participants had to dance, I felt it was only fair that I dance and shout as the numbers were drawn. We had a blast. (Hubby said he now understood why I was such a popular Class Mom when Kiddo was growing up. I’m very animated). It was so much fun, drawing so many people that we actually ran out of baked goods.
I must admit, unlike most of the Cake Walks I remember from the past, the cakes donated to the church were store bought. When Kiddo was a little one, most of the cakes were home-baked. We lived in a neighborhood with very few working mothers. Most of us stay-at-home types were active in the PTA and School Festivals. Unlike our working counterparts, we had time to really get involved and do whatever it took. There is noting like home-baked treats, unless we are talking gourmet fancy-pants cakes. Even fancy cakes are missing that all important ingredient called love.
After working the Cake “Dance” I realized two things. We needed more baked goods for the dance. And we needed more of those to be home-baked. In my head I’ve already committed myself to bake as much as I possible can in the week leading up to the festival. In order to tweak recipes; and to see what works and what doesn’t, I’ll need to spend the next year baking. I’m dubbing this The Cookie Project, although it will be cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies and candies. It was my intention to try something new each week. We’ll see how long that lasts. But for now I am committed.
This Short-Cut Caramel Apple Spice Cake is the first of what I hope will be many more to come. As for the Cake Walk, it isn’t very practical. The Caramel Sauce makes it impossible to wrap, and the Health Department insists that all baked goods be properly wrapped. However; it sure is delicious; a perfect addition to any Thanksgiving Dessert Table. Enjoy!
Caramel Apple Spice Cake with Apple Cider Frosting
Caramel Apple Spice Cake
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/4 cup Caramel Sauce
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs, room temperature
1 box Spice Cake
1-1/2 cups Buttermilk
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix applesauce, caramel and vanilla, beat for 30 seconds. Add oil, beat another 30 seconds, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add cake mix in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat for 2 minutes after last addition to blend well.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Set aside to let cool for 10 minutes, then gently loosen cakes and turn out onto a cooking rack; set aside to let cool completely.
While the cake cools, make frosting.
Apple Cider Frosting
8 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
3/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Apple Cider, room temperature
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Caramel Sauce as desired
Sift powdered sugar into a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter. Add Apple Cider, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add sifted sugar, about a cup at a time. Beat with an electric mixer between additions until light and fluffy.
Arrange one cake on a large plate and spread about 1 cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Arrange second cake on top then frost top and sides of entire cake with remaining frosting.
Warm caramel sauce in the microwave for about 15 seconds or so. Drizzle caramel sauce over the top of the cake, allowing sauce to drip down the sides.
Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow frosting to set before serving.
Home-baked cakes in all their imperfections are a true work of art!