I have this friend that has become quite the cook since I first started talking to him. He takes trips to Italy and Morocco to learn about cuisine and comes home and replicates it in his kitchen. He started baking bread a few years back and makes gorgeous loaves. When the Great British Baking Show started being aired and he mentioned watching it, I knew it was a matter of time before he started to foray into cakes. I think he made a game pie before he made his first cake. I got pictures from him every step of the way.
I had a conversation with my neighbor the other day about baking cakes from scratch. We usually talk with a fence between us. It reminds me of the show Home Improvement. We discussed how people just don’t make a lot of cakes from scratch any more, “But it’s not that hard” one of us said. “And the cake is so much better.” “You know everything that goes into it and it really doesn’t take that long.” When I made this cake, I knew that we had to take her a piece.
This is not one of the sort of cakes you see on the Great British Baking Show, it’s not a delicate Angel Food cake full of air. With every bite of this cake, you can taste your American heritage. It’s a cake that just feels like it was developed on the prairies. Something that, could they have afforded it, Ma Ingalls would’ve made for Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace for a special occasion. Definitely something Laura would’ve made in her later years in Missouri. For this cake, I used my homemade apple butter. If you don’t have homemade, just use whatever sort of apple butter you like or have access to. (Apple butter is super easy in the crockpot, though, so you may want to try).
The Apple Butter cake is a butter cake. There are a few types of cakes, and knowing which type of cake yours is can help determine what method to use while making it, even when just given a list of ingredients. I used a 9×13 pan.
Ok, so after the cake was made and cooling on the counter, I knew it needed frosting. But deciding which frosting is always a challenge. I baked a jam cake in July and tempered the sweetness with some cream cheese frosting, but that didn’t seem right for this. I dug around in the cookbook I made of my great-grandma’s recipes to find something suitable. Caramel icing seemed perfect. Making the caramel icing was not quite as easy as making the cake. First of all, there is a HUGE typo in the recipe. I verified on the original card to be sure. Softball stage is 225, not 325. I didn’t make the error, but felt necessary to call it out just in case. Don’t skip the cooling down stage. And remember that frosting should take about 7 minutes to get really creamy and wonderful (it’s why there is a thing called 7 minute frosting).
I topped mine with pecans because I like a little crunch. Leave them off if you don’t like them
No one complained about eating this cake for dessert 3 days in a row and they were a little sad there was none left on the 4th day.
1 cup white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB butter
Combine sugar (white and brown), salt and milk, cook until syrup forms a soft ball (325° F) in cold water. Remove from heat, add butter, and let cool. Beat until cool and good spreading consistency.