Cinnamon-Apple Cake

I stumbled upon this rich apple cake recipe. I’m always on the search for new recipes. This time of year I am looking for apple recipes. I found another apple cake recipe that was similar but the cake tended to brown too much on its sides and it made a lot of cake. Too much cake, actually. Nothing says Fall like the scent of cinnamon and apples. No candle can replicate this scent. It brings me joy when someone walks into the kitchen, and smiles when they smell the cinnamon and apples baking in the oven. Sheer bliss!

I substituted Neufchatel cheese for cream cheese. Who doesn’t love a good recipe adaption? Calories saved! The cream cheese in the batter gives the cake lots of moisture. It’s amazing. I also used butter instead of margarine. I love butter too much to cheat on it. I also increased the amount of apple I used. The recipe calls for 3 cups of chopped and peeled apples, which according to the recipe is 2 large apples. I don’t know how 2 apples makes three cups of chopped apples. I found 4 cups of apples made this cake. Apples come in a variety of sizes. I use Macintosh apples. I like the apples to get soft and form puddles. Sometimes I throw in a honey crisp or two. I would plan on about 4-6 apples. I chop them, add the cinnamon and sugar, and let them sit while I wait for the oven to heat. This draws out the juices. Taste the apples. I like the apples sweet with lots of cinnamon. The batter does not have cinnamon, so I like a little extra with the apples. Cinnamon and sugar top this cake for a little crunch. Its a sweet cake, but isn’t that how it should be? I used a 9 X 9 square pan and not, the suggested springform pan. My cake was done in about 45 minutes. The change is baking pans changed the cooking time.

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 ounces block style Neufchatel cream cheese

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 cups of chopped, peeled Macintosh apples (or any baking apple)

Cooking spray

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of pan with cooking spray.

Peel and chop apples. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Taste the apples before adding the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sometime grocery store apples are not that sweet. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon/sugar mixture to be mixed with the apples. The first time I made this cake, I used all of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Oops! I always have some in a container, for toast of whatever. I used some of that for the cake top. Taste the apples after you add the cinnamon/sugar. You may want to add more than the 2 tablespoons.

Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed with a mixer until well-blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter/cream cheese mixture, at a low speed until blended. The batter will be thick.

I measure out 3 cups of apples and then stir the apple mixture into the batter. I usually put in about 4 cups, give or take. Anything left in the bowl is a nice snack for the chef. Include the juices in the bowl when you add the apples into the batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Set the timer for 35-40 minutes and test it with a tooth pick, until the tooth pick comes out with some moist crumbs. Try to test where the is more cake, than apple. The cake will pull away from the sides of the pan when it’s done.

Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. This will stay fresh for a couple of days on the counter. If it lasts that long. You can also store it in the refrigerator. This recipe doesn’t make a large cake that never gets finished. It’s the perfect size.

Make yourself a cup of tea. Slice a piece of cake. Sit and enjoy the quiet and the experience. Enjoying the little things in life is important.

Breakfast of Champions?

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It’s another holiday weekend, and I have decided to broaden my food experiences. No, I do not plan on eating kale. I’m talking about trying another breakfast casserole. I have company for three mornings this weekend. I needed one more breakfast that will feed a table of people, without much prep work. I found the recipe for Baked Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole. It was delicious! Anything that I can prepare the day before, is my kind of dish. I don’t mind turning the oven on in the morning when it’s going to be near 90 degrees, ¬†You have the rest of the day to cool off the kitchen. This recipe has some of my favorite ingredients – eggs, challah bread, and cinnamon. How can that be wrong?

Custard Ingredients

8 large eggs

2 1/4 cups whole milk

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Main Ingredient

1 (12-14 ounce) loaf french bread, sourdough bread, or challah (my preference)

Cream Cheese Mixture

8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature – use full fat

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Streusel Topping

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

6 tbsp. butter, cold and cubed

Don’t panic. It may appear to be many steps, but it’s not. It’s a custard with bread, a cream cheese filling, and a topping. You cube the bread earlier in the day, so it can get stale. Right? This is the one time you want stale bread. This is all assembled the night before. You don’t add the topping until you bake it. Make the streusel the night before, put it in a container, and pop it into the fridge next to the casserole. You don’t want to forget it. If you have company, it’s easy to get distracted.

Grease a 9 X 13 pan with butter of nonstick spray. Slice the bread into 1-inch cubes. Don’t get a ruler, just eyeball it. Spread half of the cubes into the prepared baking pan. You’re going to add the cream cheese mixture on top of the bread. The original directions call for a hand mixer. I am not looking for more things to take out, put away or wash. I use a fork to soften and mix cream cheese. Those fork tines are mighty mighty. I just mash away at the cream cheese, adding the vanilla extract and confectioner’s sugar. Done. Drop spoonfuls (or forkfuls?) of cream cheese mixture on top of the first layer of cubed bread. Layer the remains bread cubes on top of the cream cheese. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract together until no brown sugar lumps remain. This could count as a cardio workout if the brown sugar isn’t soft. Pour over the bread. Make sure you pour it all over the bread, and not in one spot. It needs to hit every tiny piece of bread. We are looking to soak the bread people. The bread has transformed from stale cubes to wet cubes. I won’t use the word “moist”. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight. Overnight is best.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove pan from fridge.

Sprinkle the streusel topping all over the pan. You make the streusel by whisking together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Cut the cubed butter into this mixture. You can use two forks, a pastry blender or your hands. I like to make it ahead of time, so it can harden. Then you can crumble the topping onto the bread mixture.

Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top.

You can serve this with maple syrup and/or sift confectioner’s sugar over the top.

Enjoy!