Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back, analyze and re-evaluate. Getting caught up in the rush of things or negativity can really make you loose focus of goals. Lately, I’ve lost that focus and as a result I’ve been finding my way to get back on track. Reconnecting with my favourite past times gives me the motivation I need to get out of this emotional limbo – providing a sense of purpose and reconnect to a more focused version of me. Cooking has always been a creative outlet of mine, and now being paired with slowly teaching myself photography, it is a way for me to focus my energy and explore my creative side.
Yesterday I had woke up and with only a few things on the to-do list before work I decided to do some baking. I wanted something comforting, yet not overly done. That’s when I decided on a coffee cake, then what I found kind of ironic was that the majority of coffee cakes don’t contain any coffee. And for a caffeine freak like me – that just was not acceptable. So the mission to incorporate caffeine into this dessert began.
One of the most favourited fall combinations is caramel and apple, so what better to combine these two flavours with a crunchy crumble atop a dense but not dry, and not overly crumbly sour cream cake. But what about the coffee? In the caramel. Yes, I spiked the caramel with espresso. But not just any espresso, the best I could find from a local coffee shop down the road.
I was weary of this at first, having no idea how espresso-spiked-caramel would taste. Personally, I enjoyed it. It gave the caramel a deep, rich flavour and added the complexity I was looking for. It’s interesting, since right at first the espresso doesn’t make it’s appearance, but rather finishes off with a small espresso kick.
I adapted this recipe from a previous Blueberry Cake recipe, replacing the blueberry with apples and my experimental spiked caramel.
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tbsp butter, cubed
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 tbsp brewed espresso
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter, softened (8 tablespoons)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons melted butter
Begin with the caramel sauce.
Firstly, get all of your ingredients measured and set by the stove ready to throw in. Place the sugar in the bottom of a large, heavy bottom pot. (The sugar tends to boil rapidly once the butter and cream is added, so make sure there is enough room in the pot).
This next step is optional, which I did just as a matter of precaution. You can add a 1/4 cup of water to the sugar to ensure even melting. This did not affect my results, it just takes a tad longer for the water to evaporate before it can caramelize. If not, melt the sugar over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar until it is melted, but once it melts STOP STIRRING.
Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees or dark amber colour. Whisk in your butter until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream while continually whisking. Lastly, whisk in the salt and espresso.
Once the caramel sauce is made, let it cool while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
I made this in a large loaf pan, but any pan will do. I prepared the pan by lining it with parchment paper, letting some extra hang over the sides. In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, cream the 4 ounces of softened butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Beat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs until smooth. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, beat in the flour mixture just until blended. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Top with apple slices and about a half a cup of caramel sauce – or more if you wish.
In another bowl combine the brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add the 5 tablespoons of melted butter and blend well with the fork. Blend in chopped nuts, if using. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the apple and caramel.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cake is firm and top is browned.
Let cool for about 10 minutes on a rack; remove the loaf by simply lifting it out using the sides of the parchment paper.