A few weekends back, I stocked up on a whole bunch of Golden Delicious apples with the intent of making a French apple tart. At the time, I was sort of feeling the need to make a prim and proper dessert, with apples sliced into perfectly equal-width slices, gently cooked with breaking any, and ever so carefully placed in concentric circles inside some tart dough.
I blame this bit of insanity on a few weeks at work where I felt like I couldn’t keep my head above water and the need to create some order in my life was predominant. But after having a crappy night’s sleep the evening before I had planned to make that French apple tart and two house guests to prepare breakfast for, that maple glazed rustic apple tart happened instead.
It’s the antithesis of the French apple tart, seemingly thrown together on a whim with apple slices flying in random directions. Yet, it was perfect.
And not that it’s a problem to have, but I had more apples leftover than I expected so a mere three days later, this vanilla bean glazed apple spice cake happened as well.
I seem to be all about glazing things recently but more importantly though, I’ve been all about making fall inspired desserts…and that makes me super happy. I made this apple spice cake ages ago in a Bundt version and all this time, I’ve been meaning to remake it.
It’s richly flavored with a tender and soft crumb that, with the addition of some vanilla bean glaze, left me almost weeping after the last bite. The apple bits studded throughout the cake and peeking out of the top crust are a stolid reminder that this cake was made for the fall.
We truly adore this cake. And because a Bundt cake is way too much goodness for just the two of us, I swapped out the original Bundt pan for two 8-inch loaf pans and gave one of the apple spice cakes to our new neighbors to officially welcome them to the driveway. They’re a sweet couple with a toddler cutie pie and two pups. We’re so happy to have friendly neighbors now (don’t ask about the others) and while Kyle grumbles about the treats I give away – he’s sort of selfish that way (or is it smart?) – he thought this vanilla bean glazed apple spice cake was the perfect way to make friends. I tend to agree.
Vanilla Bean Glazed Apple Spice Cake
- Prep Time: 35min
- Cook Time: 1hr
- Yield: Two 8x5-inch loaf cakes
For the cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp bourbon (optional)
1 ½ cups apple butter
2 medium apples (about 14oz total), peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
To make the cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour two 8×5-inch loaf pans. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl; set aside.
Using electric (or stand mixer), beat the butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in vanilla and bourbon (if using). The mixture may look curdled at this point and that’s ok.
Add flour mixture to the bowl in 3 additions alternating with the apple butter, beginning and ending with the flour, and beating until blended after each addition. Stir in the apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top with a silicone spatula.
Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack. Cool completely. Cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
To make the glaze: Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Whisk the vanilla bean seeds and extract into the heavy cream in a 1-cup glass measuring cup or small bowl. Pour the the vanilla cream into the powdered sugar and whisk to combine. The glaze should easily stream off the end of the whisk. If it doesn’t whisk in a little extra cream until you reach your desired consistency.
Once the cakes have cooled completely, pour half of the glaze over the top of each cake and smooth with a silicone or offset spatula. Allow the glaze to set for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving.
Note: This apple spice cake is a richly flavored and super moist cake that only takes but a few minutes to prepare. Make it in two loaf pans (instructions below), a 10-cup Bundt pan (bake for 1hr 10min) with cream cheese frosting, or as two 9-inch cakes (bake for 25 to 30 minutes) layered and frosted with dulce de leche frosting. The cakes are even better on the second day so if you can hold off that long, wrap them up in plastic wrap and serve the following day – they’ll last 3-4 days at room temperature. Any way you choose to make this apple spice cake, you can’t go wrong!
adapted from Dorie Greenspan via Bon Appetit, October 2009
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