1st cake of the fall

the silver lining to all of this chilly rain and gray skies (so relentless sometimes, you can feel the raindrops pelting against your very bones), is that it's finally time to turn the oven back on! the first few weeks of fall still prove to be too pleasant and breezy to have an appliance in the kitchen emitting hundreds of degrees of radiant heat. but now...now is just the perfect time to put on a jazz LP, all fuzzed out against the record player's needle, to make a late afternoon french press, and to dig up old baking recipes banished to the back of the pile.

our first cake of the fall was a truly collaborative effort. lauren whipped the cake up in minutes flat, and i improvised on the filling and the glaze. chocolate, cinnamon, apples, cinnamon, cider and rum - can you think of a dessert flavor profile more fitting for autumn?

Choco Cinnamon Cake w/ Apple Rum Filling & Black Pepper Cider Glaze
takes about 45 mins, 25 inactive
makes 2 round cakes, 2 cups of filling and 1/2 cup glaze
cake recipe adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton

ingredients for the cake:

2 cups +1-2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup regular cocoa (not dutch processed)
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt (scant)
2-2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cup water
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil

ingredients for apple filling:

1 teaspoon vegan margarine
2 medium to large crisp apples, such as gala, sliced thinly
2 scant tablespoons brown sugar
2 big splashes dark rum or brandy

ingredients for cider glaze:

1 cup of apple cider
pinch of cinnamon
3 black peppercorns

- preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

- combine all the dry ingredients: sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt, and then stir in the sugar.

- combine all the wet ingredients.

- add the wet to dry and mix until just incorporated.

- pour the batter into two round pans, lined with parchment paper. pop 'em in the oven and set a timer for 23-25 minutes.

- while the cake is baking, make the filling: put the margarine into a cast iron pan over low to medium heat, and let it melt. add the apples and stir gently until they're softened and slightly browning, about 6 minutes. slightly turn up the flame, and add the brown sugar. let it get melt-y over the apples, maybe 2 minutes. turn the heat up even higher and add the liquor. it should sizzle loudly and caramelize onto the apples. stir gently and taste a piece of apple. does it taste awesome? if so, its done, so turn the heat off. cover the pan and let the apples sit in their stew til you're ready to fill the cake. if the apples do not taste awesome, add a bit more sugar and let it cook for another few minutes.

- the cakes should be done by right around this time. test with a toothpick or knife for done-ness. put them on a rack (still in the pan) to cool.

- put the cider in a non-stick sauce pan over a high flame; bring it to a boil. turn the flame down, add the cinnamon and black peppercorns, and let the cider reduce until it's about 1/2 a cup. it should be syrupy and glaze-y. if it sits for awhile before the cakes fully cool and thickens up too much, you can re-heat and thin it out with a bit of water or more cider. make sure to fish out the peppercorns!

- when the cakes have cooled enough to safely touch the pan, gently wiggle them out of the pan.

- unlike using frosting, you don't have to wait for the cakes to fully cool before adding the extras.
so set one cake on a plate, and spread the apple filling out across the top, making sure to save a few pieces for a garnish. put the 2nd cake on top, and press down very gently. then pour the cider glaze on top, and garnish with a few slices of the apple you saved. serve immediately. this cake will be good for up to 4 days if you keep it in a cake saver!



Amy said...

This sounds delicious. But is there supposed to be a photo on here? I think there might be a bad link. It goes somewhere else instead.
Can you taste the peppercorns?

Jeni Treehugger said...

That looks amazing! I've been baking today too, it's the best thing about the colder weather.