A fall cake because there are apples everywhere and you’ve got to buy bags of apples and put them in everything. So I sandwiched a classic apple pie filling in between layers of simple vanilla cake and covered it up with a rich silky vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.
If I have not sufficiently expressed my love for fall on Instagram with ‘lovingfall’ hashtags, I will say it again here! I am totally #lovingfall. It is now officially my most favorite season and I can’t get over how pretty the trees look and how many shades between yellow and red can be seen. Are there North Americans who have grown up with all the fall colours and still find it breathtaking?
Toronto trees have been slow on the colour update and seeing how excited it made me to see an occasional fashion forward tree in its full blazing glory, Steve took me to Gatineau Park for a hike during our stay in Ottawa for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. And it was stunning! Although fall seems to be late everywhere and the leaves were still turning, the park offered some beautiful views and some very red leaves.
And while I was taking this picture of the foliage, I thought of making a cake with watercolor effect with the same colors and filling up the cake with apple pie filling because – apples everywhere.
The watercolor effect was highly intimidating but what the heck! My frosting skills on the whole need a lot of work and this is another opportunity to practice. It turned out darker than I intended, I think due to over smoothing the colored frosting which leads to too much mixing but that’s a lesson learned.
But the fun part was the pie dough pumpkins. This year I will get to carve my first pumpkins ever for Halloween! So I did a practice run on free style carving. They turned out looking a bit cuckoo bananas.
The cake is from Style Sweet CA. I absolutely love this blog. This vanilla cake is delicious. It is buttery and vanilla-ey and will make your kitchen smell so good, you can invite people over to smell it. I halved the recipe and baked two 5” cakes.
Vanilla Cake with Apple Pie Filling and Vanilla Italian Buttercream
For the Cake
½cup / 1 stick butter at room temperature
1cup / 160g granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for the buttercream)
½ tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½cups / 210g cake flour – sifted
½ tbsp. + ¼ tsp. baking pwd
¾ cup milk at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 5” pans.
Sift cake flour. Add baking powder and salt. Sift again to mix it all up. Set aside.
Beat the butter. Beat in the sugar with the butter till light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat till each one is fully incorporated.
Fold in flour and milk alternately in three additions starting and ending with flour. This is quite a thick batter. Spoon into prepared pans equally. I weigh the pans. Bake for 25 – 35 mins till springy and golden on top. (start checking at 25m.)
For the Apple Pie filling
4 medium apples – peeled, cored, chopped coarsely
45g sugar (Increase the sugar if you prefer more sweet)
1tbsp. lemon juice
pinch of salt
½ cup water
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook till apples are soft and juices have thickened.
For the Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream
125g egg whites (around 4 medium eggs)
200g + 25g sugar
2tbsp pure vanilla extract
Measure and cut up butter into cubes and set aside.
Heat 200g of sugar and the water in a small saucepan. While this is heating, put the egg whites and the remaining 25g of sugar in the bowl of stand mixer with the whisk attachment and be ready to whisk. Set a candy thermometer on the saucepan and watch it closely. When the temperature registers 230F, start beating the egg white mixture on medium high.
As soon as the sugar in the saucepan reaches 240F, take it off the heat, reduce the stand mixer speed to low and start to pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream from one side. All this requires ninja moves, pay attention and be careful while working with the hot syrup.
Once all the syrup as been added to the mixer bowl, increase the speed to high and go away till the meringue cools down. Play some music, do a little dance because soon you will be eating some awesome buttercream.
After 5 – 7 minutes of beating, touch the outside of the bowl and if it feels like room temperature, you are ready to add the butter. IF not, keep beating till the bowl has cooled down. While the mixer is still running on high, add the butter cube-by-cube. Once all the butter is in, go do some more dancing. It will slowly come together. Let it take its time.
If you see signs of curdling or it is too runny, follow these instructions for troubleshooting. Right at the end add the vanilla and beat some more. Taste the buttercream and tell me if it was not the effort!
For the Assembly
When the cakes are still very warm but not hot, cut off the tops to level them and brush them with the apple syrup from the filling. Allow to cool completely.
Once the cake is completely cooled, place one on a cake turning table. Pipe a thick and high border of buttercream. Add all the apple filling in the centre. Place the other on top.
Frost the cake with the buttercream. If you would like to give your cake the watercolor effect, I would recommend reading Tessa Huff’s tutorial here.
If you have pie dough sitting in the refrigerator, roll some out. With a small sharp knife cut out a couple of pumpkins free hand style. Carve them, give them an egg wash and bake at 375 for a few minutes till golden brown and cooked through. Only place on top of cake once completely cooled.