Apple Walnut Cake + Salted Caramel Sauce
If I had to pick a favorite month, it would be September. I love the crisp mornings and the warm, blue-sky days. I love the cool evenings that are perfect for cuddling up in a sweater and sitting outside by a fire. I love the leaves that are just beginning to color, and the influx of fall ingredients at the Farmer's Market: butternut and acorn squash, pumpkins (and pumpkin muffins!), Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, kale, and beautiful apples. But most of all, I love the sense of expectancy and energy in the air. That "back-to-school" feeling hits me every year this time, even though it's been years and years since I was in school.
We just got back from our annual anniversary trip to northern Michigan (up near Traverse City). It's become a wonderful ritual, capping off the summer with a "last hurrah" week at our favorite farmhouse. It was nice to have some space and time away from our normal routines to get geared up for the busy months ahead. (Can't wait to share with you some exciting projects in works...stay tuned!)
Driving through the countryside last week, everywhere we looked there were rows-upon-rows of apple trees. We even had a tree in our back yard, with bright red, sweet-tart fruit. Our last night at the farmhouse, we threw a big dinner party with some friends (pictures to come!) and I decided to make a rustic cake using some of the delicious local apples.
I turned to Heidi Swanson's excellent blog 101 Cookbooks for inspiration. She's got a fantastic "Unfussy Apple Cake" recipe that I modified a bit. I didn't have whole wheat pastry flour, so I used a combination of whole wheat flour and cake flour. I added walnuts (because I love them) and I baked the cake in a round tart pan (instead of square). The cake turned out beautifully: golden brown on top and bursting with cinnamon apple flavor. It isn't overly sweet, and is equally delicious served for dessert (with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream) or for breakfast (slathered with softened butter or a dollop of Greek yogurt). Either way, it's a perfect way to say au revoir to summer and bonjour to fall. Can't wait to make this one again soon![recipe:best-apple-walnut-cake-salted-caramel-sauce-recipe]