Simple Frugal Apple Caramel Cake

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Simple Apple Cake. You just can’t get better then this for a fast simple dessert that will make you smile!

This cake is one of my oldest cake recipes I have. This is super simple, frugal and can be made into a healthy cake. I honestly don’t know where the recipe comes from, I found it in a recipe box from a yard sale 20 years ago. It’s been a sturdy recipe!

The thing I love is the ingredients are simple, it makes a small cake and you can have it in the oven within ten minutes. I often bake it while we are having dinner, so its still warm when it comes out!

First, chop your apples. I usually cut the “cheeks” off, then dice up. I have done this when the apples were chopped fine and when chopped larger. It really is personal preference. I have also made this with pears. Any harder fruit would work I am sure.

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You need two cups of apples, this is often just 2-3 apples, depending on what size and variety they are.

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In a mixing bowl, cream your butter until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. In separate bowl mix your flour, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Combine your creamed butter and flour mixture. Mix well but don’t beat this hard. Then hand stir in your apples. You could also add another half a cup of dried fruit. Cranberries are especially nice! So is lemon zest! You could add a 1/2 cup of nuts if you wish. This is a very forgiving recipe!

Pour this all into an 8 inch square baking dish (or a round one, or a rectangle or whatever you have!

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This will rise up and be quite moist. It bakes for approximately 35 minutes at 350 degrees. It should spring back when you press down in middle (notice the thumb print? Don’t ask a ten year old boy to test it. . . )

For the caramel sauce, its rather simple.

combine your brown sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan. When well combined, stir in your heavy cream, butter, and salt. Simmer on low, stirring until thick. Usually this is done within 5-6 minutes.

Cut your cake, then pour the caramel sauce right over the top. If you really want to indulge, have some ice cream too! Delicious!

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Recipe:

*** Note that this is a forgiving recipe. If you want to use whole wheat, then you can (we do) it will be denser but if you eat this way you already know the texture! You can use white sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, honey (though you may want to throw in another tablespoon or two of flour to even the texture out.

*** Note that you can add other fruits, dry fruits, nuts etc. to this. I have made all sorts of combinations with this over the years. It is very basic recipe so adapt to your own like!

 

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar/brown sugar/honey/sucanat/turbadino/whatever sweetener you like!

1 egg

1 cup flour (we use whole wheat, use what you wish)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups chopped peeled apples (whatever variety you have… or pears, firm peaches, bananas?)

*nuts, dry cranberries, coconut, raisins etc. if you choose

Sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch (please buy GMO free if at all possible!)

1/4 cup cream (half and half, heavy cream or even evaporated milk if it is what you have)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 tsp salt

 

For Cake:

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. In separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to your creamed mixture. Stir in apples and any other ingredients you may use. Pour into 8 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

For Sauce:

Combine sugar and cornstarch. Mix well. Add other ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Pour over cake and enjoy!

 

Amazing Apple – Pear Butter

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Need I say more?

It’s that time of year that everybody is searching for apple butter recipes or what to do with the 6 pears or 8 apples or when you are just exhausted with applesauce and don’t know what else to make. The thought of peeling one more apple makes you want to cry and call your mommy. I know…. I have been there!

On our Facebook Group Page (have you joined? Our Happy Preserving Facebook Page!) I see many questions regarding fruit butters, sugar amounts, options, and what to do with the leftover apples. Here is my solution!

I should preface to say there is no hard and fast recipe here. This depends on your fruit, choices of sweeteners, what you have available to you! Food preservation should be safe, but it should also be practical. If you have brown sugar, use it! If you like white sugar, use it! Not enough cinnamon? It’s ok! This is about frugal living, filling bellies with healthy foods and enjoying the process.

First, this batch I used half apples and half pears. You can use ANY fruit combo here! If you have peaches, throw them in! No pears, its fine, just do apples! Half a bag of cranberries? Sure! Throw it in! The difference will be adjusting the sugar volume to match the taste you seek.

Now, to be fair, you can get a basic apple butter recipe anywhere. I have found that people get worried about the volume of sugar, and this is understandable! Ball calls for 3 cups of sugar to 6 pounds of apples! WOW! People who are following canning rules (AS they SHOULD be!) Also worry if they have 3 pounds apples or six pounds because it strays from the recipe. This however is one area that it is ok to stray from that.

So, moving forward… This “recipe” takes whatever amount of fruit you have and is cooked for a low time in your crock pot. If you don’t have a crock pot you can use your oven, however watch closely for burning. You can use whatever combination of sugars you like to have. I used brown sugar, turbadino sugar and honey to season this batch. Finally, you can use whichever spices that appeal to you.

So maybe this isn’t really a recipe. It’s a process. (Can you tell I am a therapist? It’s a process….it takes time…)

First gather your fruit. Wash it up, core the fruit, then quarter or chunk it up. You do NOT have to peel your fruit. In fact I think that fruit butter benefits from skins on. It adds a richness to the end result. So chop it all up and fill up your crock pot!

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Once your crock pot (or roaster if using the oven) is full. I fill this about one third of the way full with apple juice that I canned from the applesauce I made. (Remember this post Hello Autumn! Hello Apples!). You can also use apple cider or any other fruit juice. You could use water as well, but it may not be quite as rich.

Now, just turn on low and let it good several hours. This will vary depending on your crock pot, fruit etc. I typically will let this go overnight. It smells amazing when you wake up! Then, it will look something like this!

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If you have a hand held immersion blender, just use it at this time to puree all of your apples and pears together. If you don’t, you can use a blender, a food processor or even a potato masher. Your apples will be super soft and should mash right up with little effort.

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At this point, you can add your sweeteners. This is so variable! We like our apple butter sweet but not jelly sweet! For us, it typically ends up being approximately one cup of sweetener to each crock pot full. Taste your sauce at this point. Is it sour? Add a bit more, pretty sweet? Maybe be conservative. Remember that your apple butter is going to condense and flavor will intensify!

We added 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup turbadino (a natural sugar that has a bit of a molasses flavor) and 1/3 cup honey)

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Add in your seasonings! We go heavy with this! I used 3 tbsp. cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of cloves. Mix it all in. Then, you need to fill your crockpot once again. I use the applesauce I already made to do this. You could add more fresh fruit and cook it down as well. Either way, you want to refill the crock pot so that you have a full pot again. Note that this can be skipped! You don’t HAVE to do this, I just like to start with a full pot! I had one quart that didn’t seal and a pint that was leftover. That filled the pot!

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 Now, you want to let this cook down. I put a wooden spoon across the crock pot, then lay the lid over this. It allows the moisture to escape so that your apple-pear-fruit butter can reduce down. I turn it on low and let it go another 6-8 hours. Again this depends on your own crockpot. You will know it is done when its thick, spreadable and delicious!

Like THIS! Notice how much it has reduced? (that looks really quite unattractive doesn’t it! The sides will dry up as it reduces. Well… the blog is real! I’m no fancy photographer!)

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To preserve your apple butter, it needs to be brought back up to a high temperature. I replace the lid on the crockpot and turn onto high. My crockpot typically will have the apple butter simmering by the time my canner is hot. You could also heat it in a pan on the stove. Either way make sure your apple butter is HOT when you place into jars.

Next, just ladle your thick butter into the hot prepared jars. You can use pints or half pints. Fill jars to 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Cap and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

 

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In general, my crockpot will use about 12 – 15 pounds of fruit, and will result in 12 half pints of butter.

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 Then, enjoy a slather of butter on a piece of warm homemade bread. YUM!

So, to sum it up.

Use whatever fruit combination you have on hand. I like to fill my crockpot, and this often takes 12-15 pounds of fruit. It is best to use at least half apples or fruit high in pectin but not necessary. I have done this with peaches, cranberries, plums as well. The big difference is cooking time with fruits that may have a higher water content.

Add liquid (juice, water, cider) approximately 1/3 of the way of your fruit

Cook several hours (butters need several hours!) then puree

Add more sauce if you want, or season to taste. We use 1 – 1/2 cup sweetener per crock pot (honey, sugar, sucanot, turbadine etc)

Add spices as you wish. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves are good additions. We go heavy on cinnamon, light on nutmeg and cloves

Leave in crockpot several more hours until reduced, thick and spreadable!

Bring to a simmer. Ladle into pints or half pint jars with 1/4 inch headspace. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath!

ENJOY!

 

 

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