Salted caramel and apple layer cake
For my last birthday, I was gifted a very old cookbook entitled ‘Woman’s World Cookbook of Cakes and Desserts’. The book has a bunch of instructions about a range of baking related things and some pretty amusing undertones about the place of men and women in 1920s society.
My favourite part of the forward to the book is a section providing some detailed rules about the place of cakes in the diet. These rules can be paraphrased as follows:
- don’t eat cake between meals, unless you are a young person and it’s a plain cake;
- gingerbread and other cakes with molasses should be used as a laxative;
- you should substitute sponge cake for bread and butter because it has less fat; and
- you should only eat a small amount of rich cakes with fancy fillings but you can eat as many cookies and doughnuts as you like.
The book also talks about the nutritional content of cakes and talks favourably about cakes that contain fruit. It is these cakes that are more beneficial for the diet as they have a high nutritional value.
While it would be frowned on by the writers of the ‘Woman’s World Cookbook of Cakes and Desserts’, this cake is best consumed at morning or afternoon tea. The apple in this recipe makes the cake fluffy but with the texture of a banana bread or other loaf cake. The slight tartness of the apple combined with the sweet saltiness of the caramel makes this cake (by 1920s standards) the perfect combination of nutritious and fancy.
400 grams of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
200 grams unsalted butter
200 grams of caster sugar
200 grams brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
300 grams of peeled and grated granny smith apple (approximately 4 apples)
150 millilitres of whole milk
Swiss meringue buttercream
525 grams of caster sugar
300 grams of egg whites
750 grams of unsalted butter (softened)
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste
Blue gel food colouring
100 grams of caster sugar
50 millilitres of cream
25 millilitres of butter
1 teaspoon of salt
Make the apple cake
- Preheat your oven to 180C
- Grease three 6 inch cake tins and line with baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
- Add the caster sugar and brown sugar to the butter. Cream for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the vanilla bean paste, apple and eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined.
- Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk until combined.
- Evenly divide the cake batter between the three prepared cake tins.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out of the centre of the cakes clean. Set aside to cool.
Make the swiss meringue buttercream
- Combine the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Place the stand mixer bowl over a saucepan of water to create a double boiler. Ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of the stand mixer bowl.
- Heat the sugar and egg whites to 70C, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
- Once at temperature, transfer the stand mixture bowl to the stand mixer. With a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
- Change the whisk attachment to a paddle attachment. Add the butter slowly on a low speed, ensuring that the butter is at room temperature.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and combine.
Make the caramel sauce
- Heat sugar in a large heavy based frying pan until light brown in colour.
- Take off the heat and add the cream, butter and salt.
Assemble the salted caramel and apple layer cake
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, level them to ensure that the tops of the cakes are flat.
- Using a small amount of buttercream, affix one cake to a cake board or plate.
- Spread a small amount of buttercream on the first cake and drizzle with caramel sauce. Repeat with the second layer of the cake.
- Place the third cake on top of the first and second.
- Use the remaining buttercream, frost the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a scraper. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Tint a small amount of buttercream with the blue gel food colouring.
- Apply a second layer of buttercream to the cake. Use the blue buttercream to frost the bottom of the cake and the remaining white buttercream to frost the top of the cake. Smooth with a scraper.
- At the place where the blue buttercream meets the white buttercream add sugar flowers and sprinkles to look like a daisy chain.
- Place the remaining buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used a 2D tip). Pipe details on the top of the cake.
- Add more sugar flowers to the top of the cake.