Spice is always nice, but, let's all admit, when the cool weather hits, the aroma of spices baking in the oven or braising on the stovetop simply smell better -- they go from smelling mouth-wateringly good to ethereal. In this over-the-top moist, tender, calories-be-damned cake you'll find a batter loaded with loads of diced tart apples and candied pecans sandwiched in between two slightly-sweetened cream cheese, cheesecake-esque layers. The spice is right too: apple pie spice --
My grandmom used it, mom used it & I adore it: apple pie spice.
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
For the apple & candied-pecan cake batter:
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure, all-natural apple extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon apple pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces candied pecans, diced, a scant 1 cup diced pecans
4 cups peeled and diced apples, about 3 apples
no-stick cooking spray, for preparing bundt pan
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, very soft
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons butter-rum flavoring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk, plus 1-2 teaspoons more, if necessary
4 ounces candied pecans, ground, for sprinkling on cake
~ Step 1. In a medium bowl, on medium, then medium-high, then high-speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 eggs together until smooth, about 1 1/2 full minutes. Set aside.
~Step 2. In a large bowl, on medium-high mixer speed, beat the wet ingredients: the oil, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs and extracts, about 1 full minute. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: the flour, apple pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
~Step 3. Using a chef's knife, small dice the candied pecans. Peel and medium dice the apples. Place apples and pecans in a medium bowl. Add and toss the apples and pecans with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the spiced flour mixture. Set aside. Tossing the apples and pecans with a bit of the flour keeps them from settling to the bottom of cake as it bakes.
~Step 4. To mix the cake batter, add the flour mixture to the oil and egg mixture. Beat over medium mixer speed until thoroughly combined and a thick batter forms, about 1-1 1/2 minutes. Remove mixer. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in all of the the apple pecan mixture.
~Step 5. Generously spray a 12-cup bundt pan with no-stick spray. Spoon 2 1/2-3 cups of batter into the bottom. Give pan a few shakes to evenly distribute the batter. Using a second spoon, dollop half of cream cheese filling over batter. Do not shake pan. Spoon another 2 1/2-3 cups of the batter over the cream cheese mixture, using the spoon to gently spread the batter over the cream cheese mixture and into the sides of the pan. Dollop the last half of the cream cheese filling over the batter. Spoon the last 2 1/2-3 cups of the batter over the top of the cream cheese filling, once again, spreading the batter into the sides of pan.
~ Step 6. Bake on center rack of preheated 350º oven, 52-55 minutes, or, until puffed through to the center and a cake tester inserted in several spots comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, in pan, 30-45 minutes, prior to gently inverting onto wire rack and cooling completely 3-4 hours.
~Step 1. To prepare the cream cheese glaze and pecan topping, if you have a small, "mini" food processor, now is the time to use it. Place the remaining 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans in the work bowl and using a series of 25-30 rapid on-off pulses, process them to small bits and pieces.
~Step 2. In a food processor fitted with steel blade, place cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, butter-rum flavoring, vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons milk. Starting with 5-10 on-off pulses and then with motor running, process for 25-30 seconds until smooth and drizzly. If necessary, through feed tube, add 1-2 teaspoons additional milk, until desired consistency is reached.
~ Step 3. When cake has cooled completely, and with the cake on the wire rack: holding your hand 4"-6" above the surface of the cake and moving it (your hand) back and forth, in a slow, steady stream, drizzle glaze over cake, while turning the wire rack about 1/4" with every back-and-forth drizzle, until all the glaze is gone. While glaze is still moist/sticky, sprinkle the ground candied pecans evenly over the top. Allow glaze to dry (stiffen up) a bit prior to transferring cake to a serving plate, slicing and serving cake, about 1 hour or overnight.
Moist, tender apple & crunchy candied pecan cake...
Special Equipment List: hand-held electric mixer; cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; large rubber spatula; 12-cup bundt pan; cake tester; wire cooling rack; mini-food processor; food processor
Cook's Note: Best described by me as "an extremely moist, banana and pineapple, cinnamon 'n spice cake containing toasted pecans and topped with cream cheese frosting", this absolutely scrumptious cake concoction is impossible for me to resist. It's simply irresistible. If you're like me, when you hear "bananas and pineapple", you likely say "that sounds tropical, akin to the Caribbean islands, more than it does Southern." That's because it is: ~ Charmingly Southern: Hummingbird (Bundt) Cake ~.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)