Friday, October 10, 2014

Adventures in Fall Baking Week 2: Apple Cider Spice Cake

I gotta say, this week's baking adventure went far more smoothly than last week's. I certainly did have my share of hiccups, and I'm definitely not going to be winning any awards at the county fair anytime soon, but as my lovely daughter reminded me last week: it doesn't matter what it looks like. As long as it tastes good!

And friends...let me tell you. Don't be fooled by my awful pictures. This Apple Cider Spice Cake is. So. Good. 

I did a lot of research on cake-making for this project. A lot of science was learned. A lot of head-scratching occurred. A lot of "A HA!" moments were had. It was great times.

I realized that my best bet would be to make a basic vanilla cake and add the seasonings I wanted, including substituting apple cider (bottled, unfortunately) for the milk that is usually recommended. I was a bit worried that this would somehow affect the texture, but it turns out most cakes just need some sort of liquid, and whatever liquid that is simply flavors the cake in addition to getting the right consistency.

Ingredients: ASSEMBLE!

I started off by sifting the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a mixing bowl. Then I cut in a stick of softened, unsalted butter slowly (like a half a tablespoon at a time) until I had a texture that looked like sand.

Then I slowly drizzled in the sugar...

And scraped down the sides CONSTANTLY because even though this is the bowl that came with my vintage stand mixer, it still managed to be too big to be any good.

Once it was the texture I wanted (sort of like wet sand?), I sprinkled in what turned out to be around 1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.

I dropped in the eggs (which were at room temperature) one at a time, then a bit of vanilla extract, then I slowly drizzled in the apple cider.

At this point the batter looked like this:

Sort of like half-melted vanilla bean ice cream. :)

And the smell?

Oh my god guys the smell.

I poured the batter into a bundt pan that I had prepared with butter and flour, and popped it in the oven. In the meantime, I cleaned up the mess I had already made and started on the frosting.

Frosting Ingredients: ASSEMBLE!

(They just magically do that on their own, it's amazing!)

I started with that butter, which had been sitting out for a bit and was nice and soft. Once it was well blended in the stand mixer, I slowly added the powdered sugar, then apple cider a table spoon at a time. Finally it was time to add the food coloring (3 drops of orange and 2 drops of chocolate brown).

It gave me a lovely pumpkin color:

(I did not notice until I was frosting the cake later that I apparently "broke" the frosting by adding too much cider. Theoretically I could have added a little more powdered sugar to balance it out but by the time I realized my mistake it was too late to fix it I didn't care anymore.)

Meanwhile the cake came out of the oven looking like this:

I painstakingly waited a whole 15 minutes and then I frosted it like this:


My broke-ass frosting broke even more and melted into a weird ugly puddle in the middle of the cake.

OH WELL. Like I said...not trying to win any awards here!

And besides...

Om. Nom. Nom.

This is basically the tastiest cake I've ever made. Go figure. :)



1 1/2 cups cake flour (you could probably use AP flour if you wanted to)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick of softened unsalted butter cut into thin pats
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves -OR-
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 room temperature eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup apple cider


1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Prepare a bundt pan by smearing butter in it then sprinkling flour over the butter.
3. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl to fit your stand mixer.
4. Mix together on low speed until combined.
5. Increase speed to "maximum warp." I mean "creaming."
6. Drop the pats of butter into the mixer one at a time, until all butter is added and the texture resembles playground sand.
7. Slowly add 1 cup of sugar and continue beating until the texture is more like slightly wet sand.
8. Add the spices one at a time (or 1/2 tsp. at a time) until thorough combined.
9. Add the eggs one at a time and mix to combine.
10. Add the vanilla and slowly pour in the apple cider. Don't overbeat at this step - just get it well combined so it's all the same consistency.
11. Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake 25-30 minutes until a knife tests clean.



1/2 stick salted butter, softened to room temperature
scant 2 cups powdered sugar
a few tablespoons of apple cider
orange and brown (or orange, yellow, and red) food coloring (optional)


1. In your stand mixer, blend up the butter so it's nice and creamy.
2. Slowly add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup or so at a time.
3. Once the sugar and butter are all incorporated with each other, add the apple cider one tablespoon at a time, letting each tablespoon blend entirely before adding the next. Do this until it looks like frosting.
4. Add 3 drops of orange and 2 drops of brown (or experiment until you get a color you like).

Remove cake from oven and let cool COMPLETELY (really, don't cheat like I did or you'll get gloppy melty frosting!).



Two thumbs up.


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