It’s a shame about toffee apples, it really is. In theory, I ought to love them.
There’s the toffee, which, as our Ultimate English Toffee recipe proves, we’re all about. I have no problem with the toffee.
There are the apples – and who doesn’t like apples? Your basic apple is basically the perfect snack – you can eat it on the go without getting your hands covered in crumbs, it’s got plenty of natural fiber, vitamins and that, they’re available pretty much all year round no matter where you live.
And there’s the stick, to hold it with. (Don’t eat the stick.)
Toffee apples – those of a more American persuasion might be more familiar with them as “candy apples” – are a mainstay of Autumn, and the first hints of autumnal flavors in our cooking always give me a frisson of delight (no, Pumpkin Spice Latte, I am definitely NOT looking at you). But a toffee apple just leaves me cold.
So why am I banging on about toffee apples if I don’t even like them that much? And what’s that picture of a cake doing at the top of this post?
Emily’s family is Jewish, if stressed mostly on the second syllable, and so we time our family gatherings to coincide with the holidays. Apples and honey are traditional on Rosh Hashanah, and although we missed the opportunity to make this cake for the gathering, we decided for this week’s post to at least make a nod at the old ways (if it helps you to imagine me squinting mysteriously when I say “the old ways”, please do).
Also, of course, we should apologize to those of our family who subscribe to this blog and who, even now, may be raising their hands in despair, saying “You make this cake a week after we saw you? What are we, chopped liver?” (Honestly, they’re really not that Jewish.)
So this cake is a toffee apple for those, like me, who don’t really like toffee apples. It’s thicker than a sponge, and has a consistency somewhere between a coffee cake and a bread pudding. The apples, sour cream and melted toffee (or butterscotch) keep it incredibly moist. We served it with a drizzle of our Salted Caramel Sauce but you could absolutely definitely take it a la mode with ice cream, or, if you’re feeling devilish, whip up some mascarpone cream (see step 2 in the Rhubarb Curd Tartlets recipe). We made this version with butterscotch chips, since we had them, but you could absolutely use toffee chips if you can find them in your local store, or if you happen to have some that you made earlier.
We used a bundt (or tube) pan to cook the cake, but you could just as easily use a regular deep square or oval baking dish. If you want to try using a much shallower dish, you should reduce the cooking time by 10-15 minutes (check after 45 minutes). If the top looks done and a toothpick comes out mostly dry, it’s done. A bundt pan gives you great crowd-pleasing results, but don’t forget to prep it before you pour in the batter – rub the inside surface liberally with butter (or use a neutral-flavor spray oil) and then dust with flour. You will probably have to run a plastic spatula carefully around the sides to loosen it, but once that’s done, turn it out onto a flat surface and wobble the pan a little to release the cake.
The slice shown here is pictured with lady apples from our friend Catherine’s garden. They’re just like normal apples, but quite quite tiny. It’s fun to stand around the house munching a tiny lady apple, imagining yourself to be a giant man eating a normal-sized apple. Oh! Another fun thing would be dipping them into some kind of caramel and … dammit, toffee apples! You nearly got me again!
- Butter for greasing pan
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups apples (preferably tart like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and chopped into 1½ inch chunks
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 cup toffee or butterscotch chips
- Salted Caramel Sauce (for drizzling, optional)
- Vanilla ice cream, Creme Fraiche, or whipped cream (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil, sour cream and sugars together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) for about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until creamy. Add vanilla and beat for anther minute.
- In a medium bowl, add the flour and cinnamon, salt and baking soda and whisk to combine. Add to the wet ingredients, beating on low speed just until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in apples, nuts and toffee chips until they are dispersed evenly. Don’t over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack on the counter. Allow cake to cool in pan.
- Once cake is completely cool, turn it out onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Slice and serve with ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche and a drizzle of Salted Caramel Sauce, if desired.