This is THE dish I must make every year following our apple picking excursion. I haven’t done Fall until I’ve made the World’s Best Apple Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze (AKA “Don Farmer’s Apple Cake”).
If my church congregation has a trademark dish, this is it. It’s been featured in our church recipe books, served regularly at church functions, and passed around from household to household for years. (I believe it originally comes from a James Beard recipe book, but it’s one of those recipes of lore in our congregation, so who can say where it really began!)
I moved into this congregation 2 years ago and was introduced to this cake at a fall activity. Usually I can take or leave a slice of an apple cake. I mean, I like an apple cake as much as the next person. They’re generally somewhat moist, moderately sweet, a possibly-noticeable hint of cinnamon, and some chunks of awkwardly textured apples (either too chewy or too hard). Meh. Fine, but nothing to write home about. But this one was irresistible. Like, I wanted to eat 20 pieces of it. It took all my social decorum to only eat 1 piece. And a half. (Or was it 2…?)
This apple cake was incredibly moist and dense, tantalizingly sweet, and the apple bits were integrated seamlessly into the decadent cake. It had been baked in a bundt pan, and somehow had this incredibly sweet, crispy, almost crust-like coating all over it. Like a caramelized sugar coating. The whole cake was bursting with a sweet cinnamon flavor that just kept calling me back for more.
And a dollop of freshly-whipped cream on top just rounded out the spicy cinnamon in the cake with a perfect rich sweetness.
As I started asking around to figure out how to make this cake, I learned the 2 irresistible characteristics of the cake:
- Instead of flouring the pan to keep the cake from sticking, you SUGAR it. That’s right. No flour should ever touch this pan. Did you get that? NO FLOUR!! You grease it, and then you dump some sugar in it and painstakingly make sure that sugar is covering every square millimeter of the pan. Because when it cooks, the sugar caramelizes. And when the cake cools, it hardens and forms this delicious almost-crunchy almost-caramel crust. Yum.
- You top this cake with a killer caramel glaze. And you don’t skimp on it. The glaze soaks into the cake and gives it an extra punch of perfect fall flavor: apple, cinnamon, and caramel.
I quickly acquired the recipe, and it is now in my repertoire of must-make-(at least)-once-every-fall desserts. Like I said, I usually I make it with apples we pick in our annual trip to the apple orchard. This year I used some of the Melrose variety, as the Granny Smith had all been picked. (I think I’m destined to never, ever get the timing right to get the Granny Smith from my apple orchard. Which is so unfortunate, as I find them to be the best apples for baking, and really really – what else do you do with apples besides bake?)
Now, if you don’t have an apple corer/peeler, go to Amazon and get one RIGHT NOW. I have never been so far from overstating something when I say that this will be one of the best $19.99 that you will ever spend in your life. One homemade apple crisp or apple pie makes this worth the cost. It makes chopping the apples for this cake about 20 times quicker than doing it with a knife.
Besides the deliciousness of this recipe, it’s super simple to make. Mix everything together in a bowl to make the batter. It will be quite thick. And delicious. You may find that you need to eat a spoonful or two here for quality control. Need. Cause…it’s already delicious.
After baking, it comes out with this dainty flaky crust on top. (Which becomes the bottom, so no one will know if you brake a small flake off to sample it.)
Once you turn it out onto a plate, you can see the fabulous sugary crust that has formed all around the cake.
And then you pour the caramel glaze.
All over it.
*Photos courtesy of Spencer Reynolds. Child Entertaining while we took photos courtesy of the lovely Anne Reynolds. Check out their blog here!
Don Farmer’s Apple Cake (or: “World’s Best Apple Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze”)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
3 cups flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups chopped apples (I suggest Granny Smith) (generally 3-4 medium-sized apples)
- Set oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease and sugar a tube or bundt pan.
- In a large bowl combine sugar and oil.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time.
- Add vanilla.
- Add flour, baking soda and spices. Batter will be thick.
- Add apples.
- Spoon into greased and sugared tube or bundt pan.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes.
- After cooled, remove from pan and place on cake plate with crisp side up.
- Melt glaze ingredients together in saucepan, boil for 1 minute. Spoon over cake. Great served with whipped cream.