It’s apple season and Apple Hill is open! Apple Hill is a favorite spot for families to visit in California. Located in El Dorado County about an hour away from Sacramento, the area is comprised of fruit orchards, tree farms, bakeries, breweries, wineries, and restaurants. Visitors can pick their own apples or buy them, along with other fresh fruits and vegetables, from the various country stores that abound. The best apple cider I’ve ever had comes from Apple Hill. You can also buy all kinds of fresh-made pies and pastries. Walking into a bakery at Apple Hill smells like walking into your grandmother’s kitchen. The scents of baking wafting through the air immediately start your mouth watering. There are also several very good restaurants where you can stop to have a bite to eat. A visit to Apple Hill is always a fun time guaranteed. Don’t forget to bring a cooler to cart your frozen pies and goodies home!
Last weekend we brought home a sack of apples. Looking at the ton of apples littering the kitchen counter, I thought to myself, “Well, looks an apple cake is in order.” This apple cake recipe is very easy to make and like its name says, turns out a super moist cake. You can use your favorite baking apple or try a combination of different kinds of apples. The cake is oh-so-yummy! Give it a whirl and you’ll see what I mean.
SUPER MOIST APPLE WALNUT CAKE
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsps. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup sugar, for topping
- 1 tsp. cinnamon, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until fluffy.
- Beat the flour mixture into the batter until just blended.
- Fold in the apples and walnuts.
- Pour into prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula.
- In a small bowl, make the topping by combining the ¼ cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon.
- Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar evenly over top of cake.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
A friend of mine told me that her mother used to make these little Irish snack cakes for them when they were little. She described them as basically a yellow sheet cake that was cut into cubes, glazed in a powdered sugar glaze, and rolled in chopped salted peanuts. I don’t know if they’re a real Irish treat or if they’re another American “Irish” invention, sort of like corned beef and cabbage, but they sounded yummy anyway and it seemed like they wouldn’t be too hard to make so I tried making up my own version.
The cake is just a basic Cook’s Illustrated yellow cake recipe, but I put a little twist on the glaze by spiking it with Bailey’s Irish Cream. The “stones” turned out with the moist, chewy consistency of cake pops. They weren’t overly sweet and the saltiness of the peanuts made a nice balance. I served these for dessert on St. Patrick’s Day and everyone liked them. I had put them in the fridge so they were nice and cold and went great with a cup of after-dinner coffee. They were so easy to do, too. I think I just might be making these for St. Paddy’s Day every year from now on.
- ½ cup whole milk at room temperature
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 2 sticks butter, cut into pieces and softened
- 1 recipe Irish Cream Glaze (see below)
- 3 cups lightly salted peanuts, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Grease a jelly roll pan, line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the parchment paper.
- Whisk milk, eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl.
- Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed until combined.
- Add butter to flour mixture, one piece at a time, mixing until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute.
- Increase speed to medium high and add all but ½ cup milk mixture, beating until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to medium low, add remaining ½ cup milk mixture and beat just until incorporated. Batter will look a bit curdled.
- Give batter a final stir by hand and pour into prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake about 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
- While cake is cooling, make Glaze and pour peanuts into a shallow bowl or pie plate.
- Cut cooled cake into small 1-inch squares.
- Coat each cake square with glaze.
- Gently press all sides into chopped peanuts.
IRISH CREAM GLAZE
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
NOTE: Glaze will thicken and firm up as it cools. If it starts to thicken while you’re still coating the cake squares, just microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then continue working. If you want a non-alcoholic dessert, replace the Bailey’s Irish Cream with milk. Also, depending on how thickly you coat the cake squares, you could run out of glaze and may have to whip up a second batch.