Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kicking Summer to the Curb with Apple Spice Cake

Mohonk Mountain House is an amazing place. Just outside of New Paltz, New York, hidden atop a gorgeous mountain and overlooking a lake on one side and a valley on the other, the estate used to be a Quaker retreat and now all kinds of people and groups retreat there for the beautiful and peaceful natural vistas. The restaurant, staffed mainly by graduates of the nearby Culinary Institute of America, complements the place well. The food is excellent. 

I sit on the Board of Directors of the New York State Perinatal Association, an organization that advocates for better maternal and infant health policies and outcomes, and I was fortunate that the Board organized a retreat a Mohonk in September. 

There are so many things that were inspiring about that place, not the least of which was a deep dish over sterno cups that contained a mess of apples in caramel sauce. I don't know what drew me to it, but it was my fortunate choice from the dessert table. I vowed to replicate it for this year's Kicking Summer to the Curb party. I was pleased with the results I got from this recipe, with a few alterations (no walnuts, and bumped up spices). I picked up apples from the Albany food co-op on the way back from a work trip, and made this cake the day before the party. I also tripled the recipe for 48 servings.

End of Summer Apple Spice Cake with Caramel Sauce

Apple Spice Cake 
1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 apples, peeled and grated (I used a food processor)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Spray a 8-inch square cake pan with non-stick olive oil or grease pan and set aside. In a large bowl cream butter with sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Fold in apples. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cake is done and toothpick comes clean when inserted in cake. Cut in squares when cool.

Caramel Sauce
1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

To make caramel sauce melt butter in saucepan over low heat and then add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue stirring for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove caramel sauce from heat and serve over apple cake squares.

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