Caramel Honeycrisp Apple Cakes

24 Sep

Ahhh…fall. I love this season, and now that it is officially upon us, I wanted my cakes to reflect it. Apples are a big deal in these parts at this time of year, and no locally grown apple is more revered than the Honeycrisp. You also don’t get much more autumnal than a caramel apple, which I was trying to approximate with the recipe idea.

Truth be told, I have never really gotten the whole Honeycrisp craze (I’m a Gala man myself). I think they’re good for baking, but are a little hard and tart for my liking as far as eating them raw is concerned. I had a hunch they might be the way to go for the cakes, though, despite the call for Granny Smiths from sources I read online. I was not disappointed.

Since the family and I are just now coming down from the sugar high of last week’s cakes/syrup combo (the pace of my run later that day was way too fast, and G babbled in fast-forward for a few hours before his nap), I knew I wanted something with a little more balance this week. There were any number of different apple cakes recommended by various online sources, and I did something of a composite of those. The recipe I mainly used for inspiration is referenced below.

Autumn on a Plate

Pants: On for one of either me or the boy…which of us that was is as irrelevant as reporting on it at all.

Planning: Pretty easy, as there were no real unusual ingredients to gather for this week.

Gathering: I was bent on finding the best apples possible, and was happy that my local food co-op obliged. Right inside the door were some organic Honeycrisps from right here in Iowa.

Execution: I found my own mixture of batter to be a little thick and tacky when mixed as advised. I splashed some milk into the mix to thin it out a bit. I also chose to add in the juice I collected from grating the apple, of which there was much (probably a 1/3 cup at least). That helped, too.

Once on the griddle these cakes were even thicker than last week’s. There were no bubbles to wait for. Once the edges started to pull in (ever-so-slightly), I flipped. I kept the griddle at a steady 350 and went slowly, which was the way to go. Low and slow left a certain juicy stickiness in the center of the cakes that was delightful. Delightful, I tell you! And I do not use the word “delightful” lightly.

Regarding the syrup, the taste was amazing, but the preparation was a bit of a dance. I had to bring the heat back up a couple times to get the desired thickness, and even then was left with a syrup that was a bit runny for my liking. It did nothing to blunt the overall results–just something to note for next time. Maybe a little less water would help. Or more sugar. (Sugar!)

Results: Excellent combo. The cakes were sweet but not rich, which was a great balance for the caramel syrup. The apples, when grated, really cook into the cakes more than I expected. You can taste them strongly throughout, though if you prefer chunks, then grating them not-so-finely might be the route to go.

And as for the boy, he shunned my efforts at first, but later begged for bites of my own plate, kicking his feet for more and lighting up as forkfuls hit his tongue. That was reward enough, even if I tried shooing him like a stray dog throughout.

Crossover Potential: The cakes, sans syrup, with a pecan butter spread would be amazing. Caramelized apple slices with some apple crisp crumble over the cakes, instead of syrup, would be great, too. Doing a caramel frosting and serving the cakes cold and iced would be a great dessert. I don’t envision any real sandwich potential with these cakes (bummer), though anything is possible.

And this is not so much a crossover as a potential change for next time, but I wouldn’t mind trying the all-purpose flour (or something milder) as opposed to the wheat. The wheat flavor was strong, and I’m anxious to know just how robust the apple would have tasted without that wheaty occlusion. That being said, the wheat tasted great, and made for a certain cake density that would be hard to replicate with another flour.

Without further ado.

The cakes recipe:

  • 2.5 cups wheat flour (organic)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (brown, free-range)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar (organic pure cane)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (organic)
  • 2 apples, peeled (organic Honeycrisps from Timeless Prairie Orchard in Winthrop, IA)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • Pinch of orange peel
  • Splash of milk
  1. Grate apples to desired fineness; save juice
  2. Mix flour, sugar, and spices in large bowl
  3. Add eggs, buttermilk, grated apples, juice from the apples, and vanilla
  4. Stir with wooden spoon until all ingredients are mixed
  5. Preheat griddle to 350 (or medium heat if using the stove top) and brush with enough butter to coat, more if you’re feeling sassy
  6. Use measuring cup to scoop batter onto griddle (1/3 or 1/4 cups work well–same size will ensure even cook times for all your cakes)
  7. Watch the first cake(s) you put on your cooking surface for cooked edges–when those start to appear, flip gently until both sides are golden
  8. Depending on the number of cakes you’re preparing, use your preheated oven to keep your first batch(es) warm as you prepare the rest (I like 190 degrees)
And the syrup recipe:
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted (organic)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (organic)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (organic)
  • Cashews, chopped (organic, unsalted)
  1. Combine butter, sugar, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat
  2. Add cashews and continue to simmer until syrup thickens (~10 minutes)
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla
  4. Serve hot over cakes, or let cool (while cakes warm) for a thicker syrup

Note: Cakes recipe culled from


2 Responses to “Caramel Honeycrisp Apple Cakes”

  1. Amber September 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I give these an A! Chewy, dense and delicious – great combo of savory and sweet. Definitely a winner!

  2. Susan Arnburg September 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Is it ok if I just come for the witty food-bent repetoire? While I love to cook, pancakes are the one thing my children will tell you fall into the category of my kryptonite!! Thanks for making me smile, though!!

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