Thursday, October 1, 2009

Time for Baking and Apples

It's a cold rainy day today in Minnesota. Just the kind of day when everyone thinks about baking. I don't know the "official date " for apple season but October 1 is definitely the right time. They've also created another new breed, SweeTango that will be available nationally next year. Watch for it!

There's a lot of talk about Honeycrisp apples that were developed at the University of Minnesota. They've become my favorite apple. For eating they are crisp, sweet-tart and juicy. For baking they keep their shape and aren't too juicy. I'm baking Apple Praline Coffee Cake from Baking Basics and Beyond today and filling the house with scents of apples and autumn.

Apple Praline Coffee Cake

When you prepare this coffee cake for a special occasion, arrange small pecan halves instead of chopped pecans on top to dress it up. Apples and brown sugar keep this cake moist for several days.


1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apples (about 2 medium)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle. Spray a nonstick 10-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray or thoroughly grease and flour.
Combine apples, sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Combine flour, baking powder, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in another medium bowl.
Beat butter in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium speed until creamy, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until light in color. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to Low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of milk. Scrape down bowl after each addition. Beat until smooth.
By hand, stir in the apple mixture. Spoon the batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with a metal spatula.
Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The apples should be fork-tender. Cool on wire cooling rack 15 minutes and remove cake from pan (see Baker’s Notes below).

Heat brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan over medium heat, bringing mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook until butter is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.
Drizzle glaze over cake, allowing some to run down the sides. Sprinkle with pecans.

BAKER’S NOTES: Spray the Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray or grease with shortening and coat with flour. Make sure the ridges are coated so the cake will come out completely.
Use a metal spatula to release the center and loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. With the cake side up, gently shake the pan to loosen the bottom, rotating as you shake. Carefully remove the cake from the pan by inverting it onto a cooling rack.
Because the glaze is cooked, it sets up quickly. As soon as it is smooth, drizzle it over the cake.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS: Use an electric knife or a serrated knife for easier slicing.
Place a piece of waxed paper or a cookie sheet under the cooling rack for easy clean-up after glazing.

From Baking Basics and Beyond, 2006, Surrey Books

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