spiced apple cake with brown sugar frosting

My sister-in-law asked me to bake her a cake for her birthday…her only specification was that the recipe should be from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook – Cake Days. There were so many cake choices, but I decided to make the Spiced Apple Cake as she loves a carrot cake and thought this is merely an apple version, so would be just as good…I obviously enlisted my baking buddy, Ange to assist.

The cake was delicious and rich but spicy and moist…just like an apple pie 🙂 I will definitely be making the cake again, as it was a huge hit, everyone loved the cake…however very few people could manage the cake and frosting together as it just made the cake too rich.

Below are a few of my hints and tips to help you along…they are just my opinion, so feel free to take or leave them 🙂

Hints & tips :

  • If someone is allergic to pecan nuts – walnuts work just as well and visa versa
  • The frosting is extremely rich and so is the cake, therefore it is a little too much for the cake (in my opinion), I would probably use a cream cheese icing to make the cake lighter and cut through the richness of the cake
  • I am not 100% convinced that the frosting is worth the effort, it is hard work and I wasn’t blown away by the flavour. I was amazed by how silky and beautiful it was though
  • I would also probably half the recipe as the cake is huge
  • You can decorate the cake as you feel fit, we smoothed the edges and then used a palate knife at an angle to create the wave pattern on the top.
spiced apple cake with brown sugar frosting

spiced apple cake with brown sugar frosting


spice apple cake with brown sugar frosting


    for the cake
  • 280 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 120 ml apple juice
  • 500 g caramel sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 large eggs
  • 460 g plain flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120 ml sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300 g walnuts or pecan nuts, chopped
  • for the frosting
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 250 g soft dark brown sugar
  • 440 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • silver or gold dragées, to decorate


    for the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease the cake tins well (I used 2 x 20cm round cake tins).
  2. Peel, core and grate the apples , while melting 40 g of butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the grated apple to the pan, along with the apple juice, 150 g caramel sugar and the spices. Cook the apple mixture until the apples are soft and the liquid had reduced by about three-quarters.
  3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the remaining butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, mixing well between each egg.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Then add half the dry ingredients, sour cream and vanilla extract to the creamed mixture. Mix well on a low speed, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth.
  5. Stir in the cooked apples (you do not need to cool them first) and chopped nuts by hand, making sure the apples are evenly distributed.
  6. Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool fully before frosting.
  7. for the frosting
  8. While the sponges are cooking place the egg whites and sugar in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using a hand mixer, beat the mixture on a high speed for 6-8 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the meringue has increased in volume and forms soft peaks. Remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk in the butter, adding 2-3 cubes at a time. Once all the butter has been added, whisk for a further 4-5 minutes or until the frosting is smooth and glossy. Set the frosting aside to cool in the fridge, if necessary.
  9. to assemble
  10. As I used 2 cake tins instead of 4, I cut the 2 layers in half with a wire cake cutter.
  11. Place the first layer of the sponge on a plate or a cake stand and top with 3-4 tablespoons of frosting, smoothing it to the edges using a palette knife and adding a little more frosting, if needed.
  12. Continue this process with the remaining three layers, leaving enough frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake and making sure no sponge is visible.
  13. Decorate with silver or gold dragées.

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