Brown Butter Apple Cake with Brown Butter-Honey Glaze
The best apple cake there ever was. from the cake to the glaze!
This cake was developed by accident when I failed to add buttermilk to a favorite vanilla brown butter cake recipe by Buttermilk by Sam. I baked the cake anyway and lo and behold the result was heavenly, with a tender crumb, caramelized top, and delectable flavor. I knew that it would be the perfect base (with a few tweaks) for a traditional-but-way-better Jewish apple cake, perfect for Rosh Hashanah or any crisp autumn day. Topped with chopped walnuts and a brown butter-honey glaze, this out-of-this-world cake is sure to be a new classic in your kitchen!
Equipment: sauté pan; wooden spoon; cutting board; peeler; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; large and small mixing bowls; whisk; standing or hand mixer; rubber spatula; springform pan; parchment paper (optional)
for the brown butter:
1 cup salted butter
for the cake batter:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamon
¾ cup brown butter 1 1/3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Gala apples
½ cup chopped walnuts
for the glaze:
2-3 tablespoons reserved brown butter
1 tablespoon honey ¼ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk or cream
1. First, prepare the brown butter. Add the butter to a sauté pan. Cook over medium-high heat as the butter melts, the milk solids separate and float to the top, the butter then splatters a bit, then foams as the milk solids fall to the bottom, and then finally those milk solids turn dark brown at the bottom of the pan. Immediately remove the butter from the heat to prevent burning/blackening and add to a heatproof bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside until cool, about 1 hour.
"Be sure to scrape every last brown bit from the pan into the bowl. All the rich and toasted flavor comes from those browned milk solids, so you don't want to leave one drop behind!"
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with oil, flour, and line the bottom with an optional round of parchment round. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and cardamom. Remove 1/3 cup of the flour mixture and set aside for use with the apples. Set aside the remaining flour mixture for the cake batter.
4. Peel, core, quarter, and cut the apples into thin slices lengthwise, approximately 24 slices per apple. Toss well in the 1/3 cup reserved flour, separating 10-12 slices from the remaining pile. Divide the remaining pile of apples in half, and set aside all three groups of apples.
5. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine ¾ cup brown butter, the brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat until smooth, creamy and lighter in color, approximately three minutes.
ILOC tip: Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl so that there is no butter stuck on the bottom for an even and creamy batter.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well to incorporate each egg before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
7. Add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and mix well until just combined, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula.
8. Pour and spread evenly 1/3 of the cake batter into the greased/floured springform pan. Arrange evenly over the batter one of the two piles of floured apple slices. Repeat with another 1/3 of the cake batter and second pile of apples. Spread the final third/remaining cake batter over the top of the floured apples. Add the remaining 10-12 apple slices in a flower pattern.
9. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts evenly over the top, pressing down gently to become one with the cake. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is set.
10. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing from the springform pan and placing on a cooking rack.
11. Once completely cool, make the glaze by whisking the remaining brown butter, honey, powdered sugar, and milk/cream until a smooth and pourable mixture forms. Drizzle over the top and serve.
ILOC tip: make the cake a day ahead of when you plan to serve it, if that suits your schedule, but wait to make the glaze and drizzle it on the cake until the day of/a few hours at most before service.
Makes 12 servings.