Apple Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
B and I both love dogs. We don’t have one of our own, but our “5 year plan” definitely includes adding a family member of the canine persuasion. As circumstances had it, a few years ago we had the opportunity to foster a rescue dog for a few days in our (tiny) Boston house (which, by the way, had pretty much no yard.) We jumped at the chance.
lovely local Honeycrisp apples
cinnamon, spice, and everything nice.
The dog was a 4 year old yellow Lab – we’ll call him “Spot” (names have been changed to protect the innocent) – and he was described as “mellow” by the rescue agency that we spoke with. Now, I didn’t grow up with dogs. The only dogs I’d ever really spent a lot of time around were well-behaved, docile creatures that lived with relatives or in the neighborhood…furry friends who licked my face and happily wagged their tails whenever I’d approach. I had read books like “Marley and Me” and “A Dog Year” and smiled to myself at the mischief those dogs got into. Those were extreme cases.
ready for the oven
Hm. With that lead-in, you’re probably thinking that “Spot” was a supremely misbehaved and un-mellow dog, right? Not entirely…he did have a bad chewing habit (his leash was a particular favorite, to the point where he chewed through it while we were walking him), but overall I guess he was pretty typical of a dog in a rescue situation. Some separation anxiety, some bad habits, but all probably a product of the life he’d had so far.
However, we did have one “Marley-esque” episode. The day we brought him home – as soon as we walked in the door with him – he galloped behind me into the kitchen, heaved his front paws up onto the counter, and proceeded to gobble up the entire apple spice cake I had just made (and left sitting out in the open on the counter, silly me!) The whole episode was over in about 5 seconds, and I was just left with my jaw hanging open and “Spot” happily licking crumbs from his chin! The cake that he so enthusiastically wolfed down (should I take that as a compliment?) was this apple spice cake – moist, studded with chunks of apple, still even a bit warm. I hadn’t even frosted it yet.
spreading on the super delicious maple cream cheese frosting
He was adopted shortly thereafter, actually, by a family that had some other Labs that he could play with. We were very happy that he had found a new long-term home, and as educational as the experience was for us, we decided that maybe a tiny Boston house with no yard was not the best place for us to foster rescue Labs. Will we bring another dog into our lives some day? Absolutely. Will I make apple spice cake and leave it out on the counter? Perhaps not. I suppose the smell is just too tempting!
This is a great snack cake for autumn, and the maple cream cheese frosting is, as they say “icing on the cake” – literally and figuratively!
More fall dessert ideas:
Apple Cup Pies
Cinnamon Apple Cake (one of my favorites!)
Maple Pots de Creme
Maple-Roasted Apples & Plums
Apple Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from The Cake Book
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 tart apples, peeled and diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan (I’ve used both, and have concluded that I like the 8-inch square pan better. The picture above was taken with the cake made in a 9-inch square pan…it works, but I prefer a slightly thicker cake.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt.) Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute, then gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until well blended and light, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after adding each egg, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk (or yogurt) in two additions. Mix just until blended. Turn off the mixer, add the diced apple and chopped walnuts, and stir them in by hand.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is light golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack, then turn out onto a serving platter before you frost it.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Also adapted from The Cake Book
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (I like to use Dark Amber/Grade B)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, spices and salt. Reduce the speed to low and add the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until well blended. Increase the speed to high, and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.