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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Sour Cream Cake

Slice of Apple Cinnamon Sour Cream Cake

Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Sour Cream Cake

It was cold on the morning when I baked the first test batch of this cake. I was shivering as I walked to work. Although inappropriately dressed for the unexpected change in the weather, I was hopeful that Fall was finally here, and I couldn't have been happier.

But now here I am, several days later, and the oppressive Summer heat is back once more. Hopefully this is a blip - the death rattles of a fading season, because my taste buds are ready for a menu change. And even if we have to wait a few more weeks, that's no reason not to be prepared.

As I've been testing this recipe, I've struggled with the designation. Is it a cake / cupcake, or is it a bread / muffin? 

I suppose the answer depends on the situation. Grilled with some Butter and topped with a schmear of Cream Cheese for Breakfast, and I'd call this an Apple Bread. But dipped in a Salted Caramel Sauce and eaten at 11pm (and here I am speaking from personal experience), it's definitely a cake.

Either way, you're covered, morning, noon or night!

Bowl of Butter, Sugar, Vanilla and Cinnamon for Cake Batter
The Apple Cake batter begins by creaming Butter, Sugar, Vanilla and Cinnamon, beating the ingredients until they are well combined.

Butter, Sugar, Vanilla and Cinnamon Beaten Together
Given the small amount of Butter relative to the Sugar in this recipe, the mixture will not become noticeably light or fluffy at this stage, no matter how long you mix.

Bowl of Eggs for Cake Batter
Next up are the Eggs, which are added to the batter one at a time.

Cake Batter with Eggs Beaten
With the addition of the Eggs, the batter will become light and airy thanks to the additional fats and natural emulsifiers. 

The batter lightens in color and texture as air becomes trapped in the mixture. Eventually, that trapped air will expand in the heat of the oven, helping to leaven the Apple Cake. 

Apple Sauce and Sour Cream for Cake Batter
What comes next is the Cake's very essence: Apple Sauce and Sour Cream. 

Cake Batter Including Apple Sauce and Sour Cream
The Apple Sauce and Sour Cream are beaten into the batter until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous. Given the significant amount of liquid added, the batter will be very fluid at this point.

Dry Ingredients Including Flour, Oats and Leavening
But all of that moisture is necessary to hydrate the Flour and Oats. 

Before the dry ingredients (i.e. Flour, Oats, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt) are added to the batter, they should be whisked together in a separate bowl so that each ingredient is well distributed throughout the mixture.

In terms of ingredients, do not use Instant Oats. They are heavily processed and may result in a gummy batter.

The dry ingredients are added to the batter in two additions, and the batter is mixed just until everything is well-combined. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Over-mixing = gluten = tough cake.

Cubed Apple Pieces
Chunks of Apple are the finishing touch to this batter. Yes, the Apple Sauce contributes a lot to the flavor of the Cake, but actual pieces of Apple add so much more. 

Roughly chop the Apple into cubes no larger than 1/2". And don't worry about pealing the Apples - the skins give the Cake a more hearty feel, and they will become very tender in the oven.

Final Apple Cake Batter
Gently mix the Apple pieces into the batter. The final batter will be quite thick.

Apple Cake Batter in Cake Mold
A single recipe makes enough batter for two 9" cakes. Spread the batter into cake pans prepared with non-stick spray.

Apple Cake Topped with Fanned Apple Slices and Coarse Sugar
Covering the batter with a ring of thin Apple slices (approximately 1/8" thick) adds some much needed visual appeal and more Apple-goodness. 

Lightly brush the raw Apple slices with melted Butter and dust the top of the entire cake with coarse Sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw) before baking.

Baked Apple Cake
Bake the Apple Cake for approximately 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). The Cake is done when the top is lightly brown, the Cake begins to pull away from the sides of the cake pan and a cake tester removes clean.

Individual Apple Cupcakes Dipped in Caramel
The batter can also be used to make Apple Cupcakes. This recipe will yield approximately 24 Cupcakes.

Bake the Apple Cupcakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for just 20-25 minutes.

Caramel Dipped Apple Cinnamon Sour Cream Cupcake
And as an extra indulgence, consider dipping the tops of the cooling Apple Cupcakes in a Salted Caramel Sauce. It's not quite as excessive as a mound of frosting, and it perfectly complements the Apple flavor.

- The Recipe -

Apple Cinnamon Sour Cream Cakes:

Yield1,750g  - Two 9" Cakes  / 24 Cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:
  • Butter, cubed: 115g (0.5 Cup / 1 Stick)
  • Sugar: 250g (1.25 Cup)
  • Cinnamon: 1 Tbls
  • Vanilla Extract: 4g (1 Tsp)

  • Eggs: 100g (2x)

  • Apple Sauce: 250g (1.0 Cup)
  • Sour Cream: 240g (1.0 Cup)

  • All Purpose Flour: 480g (4.0 Cups)
  • Oats (Old Fashioned): 80g (1.0 Cup)
  • Baking Powder: 10g (2 Tsp)
  • Baking Soda: 5g (1 Tsp)
  • Salt: 6g (1 Tsp)

  • Apples, cubed: 200g (approximately 1x large)
  • Apples, sliced: 2x large

  • Butter, melted: for finishing
  • Sugar in the Raw: for finishing

      Salted Caramel Topping Ingredients (Optional):
      • Sugar: 200g (1.0 Cup)
      • Water: 45g (3 Tbls)
      • Cream: 120g (0.5 Cup)
      • Salt: 6g (1 Tsp)


      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).

      2. Combine the Butter, Sugar, Vanilla and Cinnamon in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until well-combined.

      3. While continuing to mix on medium speed, add the Eggs, one at a time. Continue to mix the batter until it is light and airy.

      4. Add the Apple Sauce and Sour Cream to the batter and mix until the ingredients are well combined.

      5. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (Flour, Oats, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Salt) and whisk gently until each ingredient is well distributed. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in two additions, mixing on low speed until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over-mix.

      6. Cut one of the Apples into rough cubes no larger than 1/2". Gently mix the Apple cubes into the batter.

      For Cakes:

      7. Divide the batter between two 9" cake pans that have been prepared with non-stick spray. Cut the Apples into thin slices (approximately 1/8" thick) and fan the slices around the top of the Cake. Brush the Apple slices with melted Butter and lightly sprinkle the entire top of the cake with Sugar in the Raw.

      8. Bake the Cake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for 45-50 minutes. The Cake is done when the top is lightly brown, the Cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan and a cake tester removes clean. Allow the Cake to fully cool before removing it from the cake mold. 

      For Cupcakes:

      7. Prepare a cupcake pan with paper liners and portion the batter into approximately 24 cupcakes. Fill each cup about 7/8th of the way full.

      8. Bake the Cupcakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) for 20-25 minutes. The Cupcakes are done when the tops are lightly brown and a cake tester removes clean. 

      9. As the Cupcakes bake, prepare the Salted Caramel topping. Moisten the Sugar with the Water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Caramelize the Sugar to the desired color and doneness. Remove the saucepan from the heat. While whisking, slowly stream in the Cream. Once the Cream is fully incorporated, stir in the Salt.

      10. As the Cupcakes are still cooling, but waiting until they are no longer hot, dip the tops into the warm Caramel Sauce, allowing any excess Caramel Sauce to drip off the Cupcakes.


      - The Cakes and Cupcakes are best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for up to a week if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator but will dry over time. Allow the Cakes to temper at room temperature before serving.
      - The Cakes and unglazed Cupcakes can be frozen for up to a month. Cupcakes with the Salted Caramel topping will not freeze well.

      Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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      1. Just tried this recipe yesterday and it came out well. I think you meant 240g of flour not 480g though. Can't wait to try more of your fall recipes!

        1. Thanks for the feedback and pointing out the typo! The 480g is actually correct - it should be 4 cups of flour (I do everything in grams and convert to imperial units later). I'd be very interested to test it with 1/2 the amount of flour, however. I'm guessing yours was pretty light, as this cake with 480g Flour definitely is denser.

          As for Fall flavors, next up is wine poached pear!

      2. It was a really light cupcake! I think my batter might have ended up too thick with the 4 cups - I used a home made apple sauce which I usually make thicker than store bought. I have 1/2 a bushel of apples to get through so I'm using them for anything/everything

        1. Good call on going lighter with flour then, if the apple sauce was thicker.