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It's autumn once again and wherever I walk there are apple trees. I don't remember seeing quite so many gardens with them in. They are weighed down by the sheer numbers of fruits the trees have grown (much to the glee of the pesky wasp).
Once again I start to crave everything apple - crumble, pie, cake, cobbler (I could go on but I'm not here to bore you!).
Research took me in many directions but I think the recipe that I have created for you combines the best bits of all the research.
I haven't added any to this cake but if you wanted some extra crunch you could sprinkle the top with some of this crumble topping.
Before you start, here are a few tips to making this cake.
This cake needs a really sharp apple in order to get the best flavour in the finished cake. It has to compete with all of that lovely caramel you are adding to your cake. I recommend Bramley or Cox's.
Peel, core and dice just before adding to the caramel mix.
Just peel the apples that are going to be grated for the cake.
Make the caramels first.
They need time to cool down enough to add them to your cake. The caramel is going to get to over 175C so please be really careful when making it. Both of these are best made the day before you want to use them.
Get all of the ingredients ready and weighed out before you start.
Use a large, heavy based pan to allow room for the caramel to bubble up when you add the cream.
This is made using the wet caramel method.
Add the water and caster sugar to a pan and stir to mix them together. DO NOT STIR ANYMORE!! Place the pan on the hob, on a medium heat, and allow to boil. DO NOT STIR!! The water is starting to evaporate and leave behind the sugar, then the sugar will start to change colour. If you want to use a sugar thermometer then heat it to 175 - 195C. Don't leave the caramel, you will need to keep an eye on the sugar as you want to reach a rich amber colour. Take your eyes off it and it's likely to burn.
This is the dangerous bit - when you add the cream it will bubble up ferociously. It's trying to release all of that steam really quickly, and it's likely to spit as it cools. Add the cream slowly whilst stirring vigorously at the same time. Have a folded tea towel next to the cooker, to place the pan on whilst stirring in the cream - it holds the pan in place for you (we've only got one pair of hands after all!). Stir until it stops bubbling, then pour into a jar or jug, and allow to cool down completely.
Toffee Apple Caramel.
Everything goes into the pan except the cream, and is heated over a medium heat. Heat it until it gets to a thicker more syrupy consistency. stirring continuously. Do this by eye but it will likely take around 5-7 minutes. Use the same tea towel as before, to place the hot pan on, whilst you stir in the cream. Return the pan to the cooker and boil for a further 5 minutes. Once it's stopped bubbling then place in a heat proof bowl to cool down.
If you are not confident enough or simply don't have time, then use a ready made caramel. There are a number available such as Carnation (tinned) or Bonne Maman (jar), they can be found in any supermarket, usually in the jam aisle.
However, I recommend you make the toffee apple caramel yourself - it just adds that extra yum you don't get from ready made caramel.
Making the cake.
Use a hand held electric whisk or a free standing mixer. You want to get as much air into the batter as possible and it's much easier to achieve this with a mixer - less arduous on the arms!
Use deep baking tins - I use 4" deep ones from the supermarket.
Assembling the cake.
This cake is made up of 7 layers -
Use a cake board or a nice serving plate to place the cake on.
Place the first cake layer onto the board. Cover with a generous amount of toffee buttercream, making a well in the middle to hold the toffee apple sauce.
Place the second cake layer on top and repeat the filling.
Place the final cake layer on the top (turning it upside down to give a level top).
Cover the whole cake in a generous layer of toffee buttercream. Smooth it out if you can, leave it if you can't (either looks great).
Put the cake in the fridge for an hour to set the buttercream. Add the caramel drip sauce to the cake using a piping bag to direct the drips where you want them. Cover with the remaining sauce.
Leave it like that or add swirls of the buttercream, if there's any left.
Keeps for 1 week stored in an airtight container. If you don't have one that is big enough simply wrap in a double layer of clingfilm.