Apple Spice Snack Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

 

After my daughter was born 6 years ago, we kind of found ourselves in a yucky job/living/education situation. My husband had to finish school that fall semester or we couldn’t survive financially, so he was taking 17 credit hours, working as a TA, and doing a paid internship every evening from 4:00-11:00. We had 1 car, 2 kids, and no money, so I spent my free time tutoring English, reading these new-fangled blog thingies, and using our meager grocery budget to experiment in the kitchen.

One of the recipes that I made that fall was an apple spice snack cake, and I distinctly remember it because a) it was a lot of work, b) it was a recipe from someone famous, and c) it was gross–big and heavy and rock-like and kind of flavorless. And I was just so mad that I had spent what little time and money I had on such a disappointing recipe.

So ever since, in the back of my brain, I’ve always meant to work on another apple spice cake, one that was delicious and not nearly so time consuming and also a delivery device for the most delicious frosting in ALL THE UNIVERSE. Yeah, I’m yelling again. It’s that good. I ended up adapting this age-old (okay, age of written-down recipes old) snack cake recipe and it came out amazing.

First, adjust the rack to the middle position (or the best position in your oven for baking; mine is NOT the middle position) and preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and set aside.

Then you’re going to need to soften up the apples a little. You’ll need 2 cups of chopped, peeled tart apples (like Granny Smiths), 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

apples for cake

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat until the butter starts to bubble. Add the apples, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and sauté

sauteeing apples

until the apples start to soften and the brown sugar/butter mixture becomes thick and syrupy, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the cake, you’re going to need all-purpose flour, baking powder, table salt, eggs, butter, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, buttermilk, and the sautéed apples.

caramel apple snack cake ingredients

Whisk the flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar

caramel apple snack cake ingredients

on medium high speed for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy (scrape the bowl as necessary). Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Reduce speed to medium and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Mix in 1/2 cup milk. Repeat with another addition of flour, the rest of the milk, and ending with the final addition of flour.

cake batter

Add the apple mixture to the cake batter

sautéed apples added to cake mixture

and fold gently (you don’t have to completely incorporate the two mixtures–it’s kind of fun to have some cinnamon-y swirls in there).

apples folded into cake mixture

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35-50 (I have a gas oven, so my times tend to be way off; I’m giving a lot of leeway here) minutes or until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, place 1/2 cup (that’s 1 stick) of salted butter into a small saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until it starts to bubble. When it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Don’t go anywhere–things can go south quickly. Once the butter becomes very frothy, you’ll start to notice a caramel-like smell–that means the butter is browning. When the butter is golden brown (and before it burns), remove it from heat.

browned butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, the powdered sugar, and the melted butter and mix on high speed with a stand or electric mixer. Add additional heavy cream in order to reach the desired consistency.

When the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting over the cake and cut into squares.

Apple snack cake with brown butter frosting from Our Best Bites

Makes 12-16 servings.

Apple snack cake with brown butter frosting from Our Best Bites

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Apple Spice Snack Cake with Brown Butter Frosting


Description

A melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful cake, perfect for fall. Or breakfast.


Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, divided, softened
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped tart apples (like Granny Smith; about 1 large apple or 2 small apples)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, divided

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Heavy cream (to reach desired consistency)

Instructions

  1. Adjust the rack to the middle position (or the best position in your oven for baking; mine is NOT the middle position) and preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat until the butter starts to bubble. Add the apples, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and sauté until the apples start to soften and the brown sugar/butter mixture becomes thick and syrupy, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium high speed for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy (scrape the bowl as necessary). Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Reduce speed to medium and add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Mix together the buttermilk and vanilla and then add 1/2 cup buttermilk to the flour/butter/sugar mixture. Repeat with another addition of flour, the rest of the milk, and ending with the final addition of flour. Add the apple mixture to the cake batter and fold gently. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 35-50 (I have a gas oven, so my times tend to be way off; I’m giving a lot of leeway here) minutes or until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  5. While the cake is cooling, place 1/2 cup (that’s 1 stick) of salted butter into a small saucepan and heat over medium, stirring frequently, until it starts to bubble. When it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Don’t go anywhere–things can go south quickly. Once the butter becomes very frothy, you’ll start to notice a caramel-like smell–that means the butter is browning. When the butter is brown (and before it burns), remove it from heat.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, the powdered sugar, and the melted butter and mix on high speed with a stand or electric mixer. Add additional heavy cream in order to reach the desired consistency.
  7. When the cake is completely cool, spread the frosting over the cake and cut into squares. Makes 12-16 servings.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 12

 

 

54 comments

  1. I would love it if you (or a helpful reader!) can give me an idea of what is in pumpkin pie spice mix. Doesn’t have to be ratios, I just need an idea. I live in Australia and we don’t get Thanksgiving-related/holidays season things that you guys have. We don’t get a lot of things you mention but I want to cook this one 😉

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. This sounds so amazing! I have to make it, but I don’t have any cream. Shoot. I hope I can find a substitute cause I’m too lazy to go to the store right now.

  3. You can also brown butter in the microwave. It’s easy peasy. Just put it in the microwave in a glass bowl that is covered either with plastic wrap or a plate. Nuke for like 3-5 minutes. I learned this in the Mamofuku Milk Bar cookbook (home of crack pie!).

  4. “a delivery device for the most delicious frosting in ALL THE UNIVERSE”

    I love you SOOO much 😀 In my world, even the best of cakes are: all about the frosting, baby.

    And last night I was wracking my brain trying to think of some snacky thing I could bake with my granny smith apples and brown sugar and cinnamon. This is perfect, thank you! I actually even have the buttermilk, too. Score!!!

    1. NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM…I made the cake, it is FANTABULOUS! I even strayed widely from the recipe, and it still turned out. I didn’t peel my apples, I used bread flour, I used turbinado sugar and light brown sugar, and I mixed everything all up starting with creaming the butter and sugars together and just dumping everything else in. Yes, I’m lazy, but the cake is done, and yummy. So there 😉 Oh, and mine was cooked at about 38 minutes. Thanks tons!

  5. I love your stories … that alone wants me want to make this cake for THANKSgiving 🙂 Also love that little grey patterned bowl you measured your brown sugar in … actually love that entire photo!! Thanks, again, for sharing.

  6. Is there an alternative combination of spices that could replace the pumpkin pie spice? Any other apples you might suggest besides Granny Smith?

    1. Is it that you don’t like pumpkin pie spice or that you’d like to make a spice blend like you’d buy at the store? As far as apples go, anything that isn’t overly sweet or soft will work; Galas, Fujis, maybe even Honeycrisps (although they’re so expensive that it would be kind of a shame to chop them up and put them in baked goods.)

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