Monday, November 5, 2012
chunky apple and cream cheese bundt cake.
As revision for my recently concluded exams, I studied about social media. I analyzed the good and bad sides of it, and how the good outweighed the bad and vice versa. Technology has become such an integral part of our lives that we almost take it for granted. I bet even some of us would have forgotten that the internet is barely more than a decade old. Once the novelty of the internet passed, we were no longer star-struck by it. Feelings of reverence and amazement slowly faded into the background. We no longer treat it with the respect it deserves. It becomes just another tool. We abuse it. We misuse it. While undergoing my revision, I was incredibly saddened by how technology- the internet, social media, has fallen from grace. People were using it to hurt others through cyber bullying or even just leaving unscrupulous comments anonymously.
However, I do know that nothing is without its merits. Before all the negativity surfaced, social media was, and still is, a wonderful tool for communication. It makes communicating with people all around the world a breeze. It allows people to transcend geographical boundaries within the physical four walls of one's room, just like how I'm talking to all you fellow netizens from all four corners of the world without budging from my cozy swivel chair. More than just communicating, it bridges the emotional gap between people, allowing anyone to extend a helping hand to those in need, or just leave behind kind words of encouragement that can be a great lifesaver in this hideously stressful world.
I've personally been on the receiving end of those kind words ever since I started this blog. Sure, not all comments I receive are without malicious intent, but it is those friendly comments that constantly remind me that the world is a better place. Whenever I mess up a recipe (and I mess up alot), and rant about it in my posts, I would sometimes see uplifting words of comfort like "it looks gorgeous anyway!", and I would instantaneously feel better. I am, I admit, a perfectionist, and it is always hard to look past the tiny faults and see how the end product is not as bad as it seems. Those kind words always help me to see the bigger picture, and that no one is perfect- we will all make blunders along the rocky path towards success.
Typing those first three paragraphs has made me reflect deeply about whether it really pays to beat myself up so badly because of a bit of poor execution of a recipe. Logically, the answer is no, but for someone who thinks perfection is only just enough, I need to mull over it a bit more. Which is why, coming back to this cake, I feel a tiny bit disappointed in myself because I failed to pull of the glaze flawlessly. Just by its looks, you can see how different it is from the original recipe. I tried to be too ambitious and heated the butter and brown sugar together to intensify the flavour, but ended up cooking them for too long. Hence, when I added the rest of the ingredients as per instructions in the recipe, it became a finicky caramel that set up like armor. It was delicious (I love caramel), but it wasn't intentional. It was also extremely hard to slice through with a serrated knife so part of my cake was in shambles after I tried to hack through the glaze with the knife. Moral of the story? Don't mess with the recipe, especially if it involves heating of sugar.
The cake itself was extremely moist and full of warm and comforting fall spices. I also deviated from the original recipe slightly by leaving the apples in discernible cubes because I didn't read the "finely chopped apples" bit really carefully. There was no big problem though- the apples managed to be cooked to a point where they were still soft but firm enough, and still retaining a bit of crunch. I thought it was a pretty lucky mistake. If you like cheesecake, then you may like the ripple of cream cheese tunneling throughout this cake. I'm not particularly wowed by it because I'm not partial to cheesecake, in fact, I don't like it, but this cake sounded too good to pass up.
And finally, here is the recipe!
Chunky Apple and Cream Cheese Bundt Cake
adapted from here
For the cream cheese filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake:
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups diced apples (about 2 to 3 medium apples)
For the praline frosting:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 12 or 14 cup bundt pan (preferably use a 14 cup).
To make the filling: Beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar until well combined and smooth. Add the egg, flour and vanilla and continue beating until just incorporated. Chill in the fridge until later. You will see why soon.
To make the cake: Whisk the flour, sugars, spices, salt and baking soda together.
Whisk the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract in a separate bowl until homogenous and add to the dry mixture. Fold in the toasted pecans and chopped apples until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Pour 1/2 to 2/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Retrieve the cream cheese filling from the fridge and spoon it into a piping bag. Pipe the cream cheese filling on top of the cake batter, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge of the pan. Swirl the cream cheese filling into the cake batter with a knife- don't over do it. Top with the rest of the cake batter.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before inverting the cake onto the rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.
To make the frosting: Combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Whisk in the icing sugar, a little at a time, until completely incorporated and smooth. Gently stir the frosting until it starts to thicken and then pour it over the cake. The frosting will set up quickly so don't make it in advance- wait until the cake has cooled completely.