I saw my first fall tree today. Completely orange and golden, resplendent in the late afternoon sunlight, like a beacon in a line of otherwise dull green leaves. On the next block, there was a big pile of leaves raked into a crunchy heap. I kicked them up with my sneaker, even though the adult part of me, the part that takes out the trash and sweeps my own front steps, it knows that someone worked to rake those leaves into that pile, but I couldn't resist. That dry whooshing sound. Cronch, cronch, cronch.
A friend and I went apple picking last weekend- they give you cute little hooked baskets on poles, for reaching up and garnering the apples. Big ones, tiny ones, fujis and jonagolds and galas. I bought a hunk of cheddar from my local cheese shop and had apples and cheese for lunch all week long (if I had been more industrious, I might've made an apple and cheddar pizza). And since I seemed to have barely made a dent in the apple supply, I also made an apple cake.
Adapted from a recipe I clipped from Food and Wine long ago, it includes applesauce to boost the apple flavor (and to keep the cake moist without too much oil). A buttery toffee sauce soaks the cake with extra flavor. I took this to work and it was gone before I could even snag myself a piece. Kind of like fall leaves, glowing and then gone before you know it.
Apple Toffee Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 medium Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
for toffee glaze:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform tube pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk the oil and applesauce with the granulated and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fold in the diced apples with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, milk, and brown sugar and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring. Remove the toffee glaze from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
3. Place the warm cake (still in its pan) on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the hot glaze over the cake and let it seep into the cake, poking lightly with a toothpick. Let the cake cool completely, about 2 hours. Invert the cake onto a plate, and invert again onto another plate, right side up. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.