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Caramel Apple and Walnut Cake

Recipe by Arijit Ghosh, Columbus, Ohio
First place and Best of Show, Cake (Other), 2019

Baking temperature: 350º F
Baking time: 25 minutes
Yield: 12- 14 servings


Walnut Caramel Crunch:

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp. Butter
  • 3 tbsp. whipping cream
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Dulche de Leche Buttercream:

  • 9 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 can Dulche de Leche, room Temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Apple Cake Layers:

  • 12 oz. Granny Smith apples (about 2), peeled, cored, and chopped in small pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • ¼ cup Whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt

Walnut Caramel Brittle:

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  1. Grease three 8” round cake pans and line with parchment paper
  2. Prepare the walnut crunch: In a small saucepan add brown sugar, whipping cream and Cook over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly in two pans. Sprinkle chopped walnuts on Set aside until apple cake batter is ready.
  4. Prepare apple cake
  5. Preheat oven to 350° In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, add eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar, and mix for a few minutes until pale and creamy. Add vegetable oil and mix until well combined. Add vanilla extract. Gradually fold in flour mixture. Using a spatula, incorporate the chopped apple pieces.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the three prepared 8” pans.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool on a cooling rack.
  10. Prepare Dulce de leche buttercream: In a large bowl mix/beat room temperature butter until light and fluffy, for about 5-7 minutes. Incorporate vanilla extract. Gradually add the Dulce de leche, mixing after each addition. Once incorporated, buttercream is ready to use.
  11. Prepare the walnut brittle: Spread chopped walnuts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Put the sugar and water in a medium heavy- bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and acquires a dark amber color. Pour the caramel over the walnuts and refrigerate until needed.
  12. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on serving plate with walnut crunch on top. Spread evenly with a bit less than a third of buttercream. Add the second layer with walnut crunch on top. Spread evenly with a bit less than a third of buttercream. Add the final cake layer on top. Cover top and edges evenly with the remaining buttercream. Decorate the bottom perimeter of the cake with chopped nuts. Refrigerate to set for at least an hour.
  13. Prepare caramel sauce and finish cake: put the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and acquires a dark amber color. Remove pan from heat and add cream with stirring. It will bubble for a bit. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until smooth. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla and salt. Stir well until smooth. Pour into a bowl to cool slightly.
  14. Using a spoon, start making drips of the caramel sauce around the edges of the cake.
  15. Top the cake with the remaining sauce and spread evenly with offset spatula. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Break walnut brittle into shards and decorate the cake. Cake is ready to enjoy.
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