Friday, November 22, 2013

Cake of the Week: Pound Cake with Apple Compote, Homemade CaramelSauce, and Candied Pecans

Eating this cake is like getting bear-hugged by autumn and the holidays. It's warm and buttery and spicy and apple-y and just a little bit crunchy. It looks beautiful and tastes even better -- the best thing I've made (and eaten) in a while. I may or may not have received marriage proposals upon serving. For serious.

This cake came about by brainstorming the perfect birthday confection for a certain roommate of mine. She loves caramel. And pound cake. And anything with apples. WELL THEN. I mulled over the options, considered what I had to work with, waved my magic wand, with and came to this conclusion: Pound Cake with Apple Compote, Homemade Caramel Sauce, and Candied Pecans.

Shockingly, I don't think that I have ever made a true pound cake before. You know, the pound-o-butter, pound-o-flour, pound-o-sugar kind? Yeah, well that is exactly what this is and I'm not even a little bit sorry. It's so simple. And ooooh man so good!

There are a lot of components going on here, but 1) it's worth it; and 2) none of them are very difficult to make at all. I am sharing this recipe with you now because there is a certain day coming up on which you might want to make an insanely delicious dessert...cough cough Thanksgiving cough cough...

I made the cake and candied the pecans in the afternoon, then prepped the apples (peeling and slicing). If you're serving this with dinner, I suggest starting the apples simmering about 10 minutes before you sit down to dinner, then turning the heat off and letting them continue to cook covered in the pot until you're ready to serve. (If you want to just cook and serve, the apples should take about 20 minutes.) Make the caramel sauce right before serving (it takes less than 10 minutes), so you can pour it over the cake hot and delicious.

Pound Cake with Apple Compote, Homemade Caramel Sauce, and Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans (can be made days in advance)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pound Cake
  • 1 pound (2 cups) sugar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound (9 large) eggs
  • 1 pound (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional glaze: 3/4 cup powdered sugar + 2 tablespoons milk + a splash of real maple syrup
Apple Compote
  • 4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons cloves
Caramel Sauce
  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Candied Pecans: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add sugar and toss pecans in the mixture until evenly coated and toasted (about 1 minute -- be careful not to burn the pecans). Turn onto waxed paper and let them cook completely.
  2. Pound Cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan. 
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer, then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until well creamed and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and salt, beating constantly. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until well blended.
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the pan (it will be thick). Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack and let it cool.
  5. Optional glaze: If you want things to look extra-pretty, mix glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Add a bit more milk or sugar as necessary to get a good drizzle-able thickness. Spoon over cooled cake. 
  6. Apple Compote: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine all ingredients. Turn the stove on to medium heat, cover, and let the apples cook (stirring rarely) for about 20 minutes, or until the apples are like apple pie filling.
  7. Caramel Sauce: Mix the brown sugar, cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes to thicken. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat, cool slightly and pour the sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold.
  8. To serve: Scoop apples over slices of cake, sprinkle with pecans, and top with a lot of caramel sauce. 
  9. Swoon.