Friday, December 7, 2012

Whole-Grain Caramel Apple Holiday Cake ~ And a giveaway!

There's nothing like a drippy cloud of dietary guilt to spoil a perfectly delightful parade of holiday goodies. Good news! You don't have to confine yourself to the veggie platter to enjoy healthier treats this holiday season. With high-quality ingredients and a few simple swaps, it's simple to create really delicious baked goods that you'll enjoy not only eating, but giving as hostess and teacher's gifts and serving at your holiday get-togethers.

I've come up with a recipe that adjusted one of my holiday classics to make use of two of my favorite Hodgson Mill products: Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Whole Wheat Flour. Instead of butter in the cake, I use canola oil. The nutty wholegrain flours are perfect to host the homey spices, sweet apples, and crunchy nuts that make this cake so special. Well, that and the caramel butter frosting, which is a truly decadent finishing touch.
And more good news! Hodgson Mill has been kind enough to provide a $25 prize pack for one lucky visitor to At the Baker's Bench! For a chance to win, leave a comment below by midnight (EST) on December 15, 2012, telling me about your favorite holiday baking tradition, and include your e-mail address so I can notify you if you win. Also, visit Hodgson Mill online for a change to win a holiday gift pack. Click here for a printable Hodgson Mill coupon.

Happy baking!

Caramel Apple Holiday Cake

• 2 cups Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
• 1 cup Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 2 cups)
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans (optional)

Caramel Butter Frosting 
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 stick (4 oz) butter
• ¼ cup milk, cream, or half-and-half
• Pinch salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 to 11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1. Spray two 9" cake pans with nonstick pan spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla, apples, spices, and nuts, if using; stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon or large spatula to incorporate all dry ingredients—batter will be stiff.
4. Transfer batter to prepared pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center tests clean. Remove pans to rack for 10 minutes; de-pan cakes and let cool completely before frosting or freezing.
5. For Caramel Butter Frosting: Combine brown sugar, butter, salt, and milk or cream in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat in confectioners’ sugar ½ cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cake layer(s) with a small offset spatula, swirling frosting in a smooth motion. If frosting hardens too quickly, place over low heat on stove (or in microwave for a few seconds) until it softens. If desired, add sprinkles or decorations immediately after spreading as this frosting will set up quickly.

 Recipe Notes: 
• You can make this cake in loaf pans, small Bundt pans, or even muffin pans. Adjust baking time down for smaller pans.
• If you want to drizzle rather than spread frosting, just prepare as directed but use less confectioners' sugar to achieve a drizzling consistency. Alternatively, thin frosting with a little bit of milk or cream, or heat and drizzle over cake while the frosting is warm.
• Unfrosted, this cake freezes beautifully. Make one layer to serve now and wrap the other tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer to serve later.


V Momma said...

My favorite holiday baking tradition is making gingerbread men and cut out sugar cookies with my 5 children. I make big mugs of hot cocoa for them to sip while they decorate the cookies. We all have fun!

Jill Hartley -- said...

I used to love making cut outs but this beautiful creation might be my new favorite treat. :-)

Bob delGrosso said...

So the caramel makes sense vis a vis the nutty notes in the Graham flour. But I'm not sure one can say as much about my comment.

Louisa Demmitt said...

My dad always put sticky buns to rise in the oven late on Christmas Eve. When we woke up Christmas day the house would smell like yeasty bread and cinnamon and pecans. I'm happy that now I'm an adult I get to participate in making these gooey, delicious morsels of childhood! This is by far my favorite holiday baking tradition.

Anonymous said...

My Mom always made homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve to go with our wonderful pot of homemade soup. I have always loved the smell of baking bread and have continued the tradition to this day. Thnak you Sandy for the chance to win this wonderful gift.
Happy Hollidays, Leslie gagne
My email is

mummytotwoboys said...

My favorite baking tradition is baking sugar cookies with my sons on Christmas Eve

Manda said...

My favorite tradition is having brunch on Christmas morning!

shankyouverymuch11 at (yahoo) dot com

Sandy Smith said...

We have a winner! Thanks for playing. :)
Bob delGrosso, the Random Number Generator wants YOU to have Hodgson Mill this Christmas! Congratulations!

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