One thing I’ve learned from living in the New York City is that it’s difficult to tell when the season changes from summer to fall. The weather likes to remain stagnant here–so far, there’s only been a couple days where I have had to bundle up with more than one sweater. The trees are hardly changing color. As I write this, I am looking at the trees in our courtyard, which are either green or a dead shade of brown. Fortunately, I was able to attend a retreat in upstate New York a couple weeks ago, where I really got to appreciate the beauty of autumn. I never thought I would take foliage for granted, but I have. Even though it was frigid at night, the fresh air and brilliantly colored trees inspired me to appreciate the gifts of the season.
This weekend, I baked a caramel apple coffee cake to celebrate the new season. I haven’t been baking as much as I would like to, due to the fact that I have limited free time and limited expenses. I’m sure I’ll have to get creative with substitutions as my college bank account dwindles later on in the year. Speaking of creative, I’m still getting used to cooking in a tiny kitchen and finding places to put my things as I cook. I’m constantly shuffling my mixing bowl and ingredients from the small counter to the top of the refrigerator, or the edge of the sink or the stovetop. Oh, how I miss cooking in my kitchen at home!
Somehow I managed to pull together a decent looking and delicious cake that made my dorm room smell fantastic. I even made my own caramel sauce, which is probably more economical than buying it in the store because I already had the simple ingredients in my cabinet and fridge. (Hint: if you make your own caramel, everyone will think you’re some sort of superhuman.) One of the most satisfying things about fall is the marriage of caramel and apples. Throw on some streusel topping, and you have yourself a festive cake to celebrate the season.
Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour (you can use all-purpose or whole wheat pastry)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 apples, sliced thin
1/4 to 1/3 cup caramel sauce (recipe follows)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup olive oil, melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a springform pan.
- In a large bowl, mix oil, eggs, yogurt and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon and stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange apple slices on top.
- In a separate bowl, mix together flour, pecans, oil, sugar and cinnamon. Place the topping over the apples.
- Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan, then remove and pour caramel sauce over it.
Notes: I do not have, nor could I find anyone with, a springform pan, so I used an 8-inch round cake pan. The only problem with this is that you can’t neatly remove the cake from the pan without damaging the topping, so the caramel sauce sort of runs under the cake. If you’re planning on serving the cake at a gathering, I would advise using a springform pan. However, if you’re feeding hungry college kids, nobody will mind the messy caramel.
Adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
- In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat. Gently stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture is light brown, 7-8 minutes. Do not scrape the sides of the pan.
- Add the butter and gently stir until combined. Once the butter is melted, remove the mixture from heat and add cream, vanilla and salt. Stir vigorously until all ingredients are incorporated. Let cool before using.