Autumn seems to pass by in a flash, and this seasonal skillet cake will disappear just as quickly. Nobody can resist warm cinnamon-apple cake fresh from the oven, especially when it’s topped with homemade caramel sauce. So nab yourself a slice of cake, grab a mug of coffee and enjoy it while it lasts.
11/2 cups (220g) flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
21/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (55g) white sugar
11/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk
3 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 10-inch ovenproof skillet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape the bowl again and add the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture increases in volume and lightens in colour, about 3 to 4 minutes.
With the mixer on low, alternate adding a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk to the batter. Stir until barely combined, then repeat with another third of the flour and the remaining milk. Add the final third of the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Scrape the batter into the skillet and spread evenly with a spatula. Press the thinly sliced apple pieces into the batter so that their rounded edges peek out of the batter and their flat edges almost touch the bottom of the pan. Arrange them in ever-smaller circles from the outside to the centre of the pan. Tuck any extra pieces closer to the edges of the pan where the cake bakes more quickly.
Bake until the cake is set and just starting to pull away from the edges, about 30 minutes. It’s okay if a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs – the cake will continue to cook in the skillet while it cools.
While the cake is baking, place the sugar in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan and pour the water over it. Microwave the cream until warm then place nearby along with the measured butter and salt.
Put the pan over medium-high heat and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stop whisking once the sugar starts to boil. Let the sugar boil, swirling the pot occasionally, until it begins to turn light brown. Then watch it very carefully and remove it from the heat as soon as it begins to look amber/dark caramel coloured. Whisk in the butter until smooth, then slowly whisk in the warm cream in a thin stream. The mixture will bubble up (which is why you shouldn’t use a small pot) but keep whisking until smooth. If your caramel clumps up, stir it over gentle heat until it melts. Stir in the salt and pour into a heat-proof jar. Place in the fridge (or freezer if you’re in a rush) until it’s cooled down enough to serve.
To serve: Drizzle the sliced cake with warm caramel sauce and enjoy. Store leftover caramel in the fridge and leftover cake covered at room temperature.
Tip: If you don’t have a heat-proof skillet, you can bake the cake in a greased and floured 9.5-inch round cake pan. Increase the baking time to 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, as the pan will not stay hot enough to cook the cake once it has been removed from the oven.
Stephanie Eddy, who writes about her baking exploits at clockworklemon.com, lives in Calgary.