Basically, the members of the group vote on a cake to bake each month and on the 20th of each month, the cake we have chosen (and baked) is revealed. It's fun to be a member of a secret group and there are so many talented bakers in the group there is always something to learn from them!
Since this is a new baking year, we are baking from a new book. This year's book is Great Cakes by Carole Walter. It is a thick book, filled with many, many recipes, and for our first cake, we have chosen to bake an Applesauce Spice Cake.
This cake!! Apart from being tender and delicious, baking this cake meant that the entire house was filled with the aromas of apple and cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice. It was like Christmas!!! HMMMM :)
To make the cake, I started by toasting the pecans and chopping them. Pecans are not cheap in Singapore and they may not be easily available, so feel free to substitute with walnuts or any other nuts that you prefer.
The flour was sifted together with the bicarbonate of soda, salt, spices.
Then the pecans were stirred into the flour. And this was set aside.
In the bowl of a mixing bowl, I placed the butter and lemon rind. They were mixed until the mixture was smooth.
The vegetable shortening was added, and mixed for another minute or so.
And the sugars were added, and mixed.
I added the eggs, one at a time, and mixed.
In went the chopped apples.
Finally, the flour and applesauce were added in the sequence flour-applesauce-flour-applesauce-flour.
You should end up with a smooth mixture, with chucks of apples peeking through. The batter was spooned into a greased and floured Bundt pan.
And baked. Although the recipe stated that the cake should be baked for 55 to 60 minutes, all of us found that 35-40 minutes was sufficient!
Once baked, the cake was allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before I transferred it onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake smelt heavenly, it sort of looked naked, so I made a quick glaze to go on it.
To make the glaze, I melted butter and brown sugar. The cream was added, and the mixture was brought to a gentle boil, and then simmered for a couple of minutes.
The icing sugar was sifted and whisked into the mixture, followed by the vanilla extract, until a thick, but pourable glaze was formed.
This was then drizzled onto the cake.
This was the first cake I have made from this book, and I am already impressed, both with what I made, and with the fact that the instructions in the recipes are so clear and detailed. I cannot wait to try more recipes from the book!
Applesauce Spice Cake (Serves 8-10)
Adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carole Walters (Pg 194-195)
2 1/4 cups sifted unbleached plain flour
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon - I reduced this to 3/4 tsp
1 tsp. ground allspice - I reduced this to 1/2 tsp
1 tsp. ground nutmeg - I reduced this to 1/2 tsp
3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped medium-fine
1/3 cup (75.6g) butter
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/3 cup vegetable shortening - I used Crislo
3/4 cup granulated sugar - I used 1/2 cup
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 med. sized tart greening or Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped medium-small (about 2/3 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened bottled applesauce
Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 170C. Butter a 9" Bundt pan, dust it lightly with flour and invert over the kitchen sink to tap out excess flour.
Sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices in a triple sifter. Stir in chopped pecans. Set aside.
Cut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place in large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the beaters or paddle attachment. Soften on low speed. Add the lemon rind. Increase speed to medium-high and cream until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the vegetable shortening and mix for 1 minute longer.
Add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking 3 to 4 minutes to blend it in well. Add the light brown sugar over an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. (I added the sugars all at once and mixed.)
Add the eggs, 1 at a time at 1-minute intervals. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add the fresh apple and the vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour/nut mixture alternately in three additions with the applesauce in two additions, starting and ending with the flour. Beat just until incorporated after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Center the pan on the rack and bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until the cake begins to leave the sides of the pan and a twig of straw or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. (I baked my cake for 35 minutes.)
Remove from oven. Place the pan on a cake rack to set for 10 to 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and remove pan. While the cake is still warm you may want to pour Brown Sugar Glaze (page 464) over the top, letting it drip naturally down the sides. Garnish the top with chopped pecans if you wish.
STORAGE: Store at room temperature under a glass cover or in an airtight container for up to 2 days. For longer storage wrap the unglazed cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
Brown Sugar Glaze (Makes about 1/2 cup, enough to glaze a 9-inch Bundt cake)
Adapted from Great Cakes by Carole Walter (Pg 464)
3 tablespoons (46g) butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over low heat. Stir in the heavy cream and cook until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
2. Off the heat, gradually add the icing sugar in three additions, whisking until smooth. Blend the vanilla, The icing should be pourable. If it is too thick, thin with drops of extra cream.