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Friday, August 26, 2011

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake with Praline Frosting
When I received my September issue of Southern Living, the cover displayed a gloriously decadent cake  topped with, what almost looked like, pecan pralines!  I flipped through rapidly to find it and I found a full spread of luscious apple desserts.  Even though we are still in August and pulling 100 degree temperatures in the Rio Grande Valley, autumnal apples are making their appearance in cooking magazines, cooking shows, and blogs.  Now, if we could just get some cool mornings into the picture, it might feel Fallish.  For me though, living on the Gulf Coast, not likely to feel coolness until November.  That's quite alright; nothing beats living on this lovely expanse of salt water outside my window.  Missing the seasons is a small price to pay!
The Laguna Madre on the Texas Gulf Coast near Port Isabel/South Padre Island

I decided I was going to make a couple of apple desserts this and next week to ease myself back into the kitchen and, hopefully, some more regular blogging.  School's back in session, life is settling down, and I'm ready to bake, cook, and write once again.

So, let's get started with this lovely Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake with Praline Frosting. 

APPLE-CREAM CHEESE BUNDT CAKE
Adapted from Southern Living Magazine, September 2011,
further attributed to Robert Kindred of Seagoville, Texas

INGREDIENTS:

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Apple Cake Batter:

1 cup finely chopped pecans (I toasted before chopping and measuring)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
1 cup granulated white sugar (I used vanilla sugar I made with some vanilla beans)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups peeled, cored, and finely chopped Gala apples (about 1.5 lbs)
   (I used a mix of Gala and Fuji apples)

Praline Frosting:

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
Toasted Pecans for garnishing

METHOD:

1.  Prepare Filling
Filling Ingredients


Beat cream cheese, butter, and granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth.  (I used the food processor - it's fast and smooth)
Add egg, flour, and vanilla, beating until just blended.
Prepared Filling

2.  Prepare Batter. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Bake pecans (including those to be used for garnish) in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.  Set aside to cool.
Toasted Texas Pecans...yummie!

Stir together flour, both sugars, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and allspice.
Dry ingredients for batter before whisking to evenly blend

Add eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract, just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Very dense batter - do not over blend


Dig deep to the bottom of the bowl - fully incorporate dry goods

Prepare and stir in 3 cups finely chopped apples and 1 cup finely chopped pecans.
Amazing that 3 apples made 4 cups of diced apples!

I peeled, quartered, cored, sliced each quarter across the thick part

Sliced each quarter into thin slices

Diced 4 cups worth!  Beautiful crisp apples!

Rough chopped the pecans - not as fine as could be -
but I wanted to see a little bit of nut in the cake

Incorporating the apples and pecans in the batter...
Dang - that's heavy!  Don't use a weak handled spatula or you will break it!


3.  Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan.
Spoon cream cheese filling over apple mixture leaving a 1 inch border around edges of pan.
Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife.
Spoon remaining apple mixture over cream cheese filling.
In the oven and ready to bake

4.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely (about 2 hours).  I let mine sit under a cake cover over night after allowing it to cool.  This was a long endeavor.  I was tired :-)

Ahhhh, the smell of baked apples and nuts and cinnamon and nutmeg...
smells like Autumn to me!

5.  Prepare Frosting.
Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. 
Frosting ingredients melting together in sauce pan

Everything melted - keep whisking


Allow to boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly.
Use a timer - just needs exactly 60 seconds of boiling time

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
Gradually whisk in sifted powdered sugar until smooth. (Important to sift every single lump out of that powdered sugar before adding!)
Took a little time - but got it all through a fine sieve - no lumps desired!

Stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly.

at the 4 minute point.  By the time I spooned on the cake, it was starting to firm up and it didn't
drizzle the way I wanted it to - not bad, just a tad too thick

Pour immediately over cooled cake.
Garnish with extra toasted pecan chunks.
Garnish rapidly or the pecans won't stick - this frosting cools and firms rapidly

Soooo, you know up above where it said a 14 cup Bundt pan?  Well, turns out I have a 10 cup Bundt pan...BUT I have 4 one cup mini Bundt pans... so I got out my scale and weighed the batter.  I got just over 69 ounces of batter so I put 23 ounces in one bowl so I had my 1/3 for the top (to be the bottom) of the cake.  As usual, I'm scared of things rising and going overboard so I tried to really be methodical this time.  I eyeballed the 2/3 left in the mixing bowl and gave each mini a good scoop or two and then put the remaining into the bigger Bundt pan.  Good so far (the batter is damn heavy though - I think the change to white whole wheat flour made this even more dense than I expected.  I then spooned the cream cheese mixture over the batter in the pans, trying really hard to leave a border - but it was liquidy enough that it just spread out.  Swirling with a knife didn't work very well either.  I might have done better to use two knives, holding the batter apart so the cream cheese mixture could head south.  I used the remaining 1/3 for a very sparse top - soon to be bottom - and was even more sparing with the little minis - because I didn't care if they turned out all that pretty.  So, into the oven they went - minis on a baking sheet (they baked in a perfect 25 minutes).  The larger cake, because it was smaller than called for, should have been taken out at the hour mark.  It smelled on the verge of burning about 5 minutes before the timer went off...so I scurried and got it out of the oven.  It was fine - slightly darker than the little minis but all-in-all smells awesome!

I decided to guinea pig one of the little minis that had made my kitchen smell like the home of a Kitchen Goddess...it smells like Fall!  If I don't look at my outdoor thermometer I could almost believe it!  I cracked open one of the minis and OMG - it looked and smelled delicious...but you couldn't really see much of the cream cheese part at all!  That was disappointing. 

What was NOT disappointing was the big mouthful of pleasure I felt after popping a big hot piece of cake in my mouth.  I admit to eating the whole thing - no frosting needed.  These would be a wonderful addition to a Christmas breakfast if made in muffin format!  So rich and spicy with the moist apple pieces and background flavor of toasted pecans.  Just delicious.

Mine doesn't look like the cover of  Southern Living - but it tastes damn good!

My take on the September 2011 Southern Living cover cake!

Labor intensive (heck, that was a lot of small dicing - I measured 4 cups of diced apples) and finely chopped pecans and heavy delicious batter.  I will definitely do this cake again.  Not sure why the inside cream cheese didn't work - but I can taste the background flavor of the cream cheese.  I think it needed to be more dense...I'll have to think about it - maybe with ricotta cheese instead of cream cheese?  Wonder if it would "hold its own" against the heavy batter a bit better.  Might have to give it a try!  Maybe I just need to give up on the whole wheat flour substitution...but dang I like a more wholesome cake (I feel better about myself when I pig out).  I'll report back if I do this again and see improvement in my second go round!  I'd slice it and show you the inside - but my honey is home for the first time in 3 weeks and I'm waiting for him before slicing.  He's gonna love this cake!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

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11 comments:

  1. This cake sounds amazing! I love that there is cream cheese filling hidden on the inside.

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  2. This time of year there is an over abundance of apples here in Sweden. I cant waste them so I am very excited to try this. I might have to try it with ricotta and cream cheese and see which is best. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  3. Wow, what an amazing looking bundt cake. We happen to have apples in season, can't wait to try this out!

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  4. This cake sounds wonderful! I'm going to a picnic today and have been debating for the past two days what to bring for dessert-I'm pretty sure I just found it! YUM!

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  5. I ended up making this cake this weekend (minus the nuts) and everyone was fighting over the leftovers! Thanks for sharing this amazing dessert!

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  6. Oh my goodness, this sounds so good! Cream cheese filling and praline frosting? I'm gonna have to try this. Yum!

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  7. I love your recipe! Would you come over to CAST PARTY WEDNESDAY tomorrow and share it with us?
    Thanks,
    I hope to see you there!
    http://ladybehindthecurtain.com

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  8. yum! This sounds and looks completely delicious! Thanks so much for linking up to Tuesday Talent Show! I would love to have you stop by and link up again tomorrow with more great projects!
    -Nikki
    http://chef-n-training.blogspot.com/

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  9. Yum Yum Yum and more yum!!! Thanks for posting!

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  10. As a native Corpus Christian, I so relate to you in this article about feeling the bite of fall a bit later in the year. But cranking up the stove with something apple and spice scented does help me get into the spirit earlier.

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