A few years ago, I participated with my sweet niece Madysen in the C&H We Love Dessert Contest at the Tulsa State Fair. It was our second attempt in the contest, and I am very proud to say that she and I won the First place ribbon with our recipe, Mady’s Special Apple & Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I made a couple of very minor tweaks to the recipe and I am happy to share our recipe with you.
Here is all you need.
For the dry ingredients:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
For the apples:
- 3 cups grated apple with peel (approx 3 – 4 medium Granny Smith Apples)
Fore the grated apple, I cored and quartered 4 apples. And yes, I left the peel on because yes, I hate peeling apples.
I used my food processor to shred the apples which is way faster and easier than grating them by hand. The only thing you have to watch out for is big chunks of peel that don’t get shredded all the way.
Next, dump your shredded apples (including any juice) into the flour mixture and toss until the apples are coated.
For the wet ingredients:
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 6 oz vegetable oil
Blend the wet ingredients well and pour over the apple/flour mixture. Gently mix the two together until just combined.
And here is where I deviated slightly from my original recipe. I added a little bit of orange zest to the cake batter. (I’ve started DVR’ing that show The Chew and Chef Simon puts orange zest in just about everything so I figured why not.)
I also decided to make cupcakes instead of a whole cake. I lined my pan with cupcake liners and sprayed the top of the pan with Pam. I like to use these ice cream scoops for dishing out my batter into my cupcake pans, that way they are all more or less the same size and they bake evenly.
Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the Citrus Syrup by combining the following:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- zest of one lemon and one orange
Bring to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for one minute then remove from heat and cool completely. Strain syrup and discard zest.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting you’ll need:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 sticks butter
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
To prepare frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl or mixer. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar then beat until smooth.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, poke several shallow holes in the tops of the cupcakes with a toothpick. Carefully spoon or brush the tops of the cupcakes with the citrus syrup and allow to soak in.
Honestly, I think you could probably skip this whole step if you added more very finely grated lemon and orange zest to the batter. I was just trying to think of something cool that would impress the judges when I added this step.
But I’m not competitive or anything.
Now for the best part, because to me, any cake (even really good cake) is just a vehicle for Cream Cheese Frosting. I really like using these clear, disposable piping bags fitted with a 1M tip (My friend, Kerry, makes the prettiest cupcakes and this is the tip she uses.)
It took a few tries to get my swirls just just right, but I finally made some decently frosted cupcakes.
In my original recipe, I decorated the sides and top of my layer cake with lightly toasted walnut halves. So for these cupcakes I just placed one right on top. These are no where near as pretty as Kerry’s cupcakes, but I was pleased with the final product.
I suppose if you wanted to be all pastry-cheffy, these cupcakes are technically more of a muffin rather than a cake due to the leavening and slightly irregular texture (something akin to a carrot cake). No matter what you want to call it though, they are really yummy. Even my dear husband, who admittedly is not fond of apple cake, gave these cupcakes high praise.
Which was a bigger surprise than winning the blue ribbon.
P.S. Here is the link to our orignial recipe – Mady’s Special Apple & Walnut Cake