About this recipe
I used to make this dessert only when apples are abundant in the fall, but now friends and family request it whenever I ask what I can bring to gatherings. It travels well and can be made up to three days ahead of time. The gooey cake presents like a bread pudding, but with eight whole apples instead of bread, it’s slightly healthier. I use tart apples such as Granny Smiths, which hold up well during the long baking time and balance the rich flavors.
1. Up to 4 Days Ahead: Grease a 9X13-inch pan with 3-inch high sides or higher. (The high-sided disposable aluminum foil ones work well.)
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer for about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
3. Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture. Fold in 6 cups chopped apples. Pour batter into prepared pan, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
4. For Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-high. Add the white sugar to saucepan and stir until sugar begins to melt and turn golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.
5. Stir in the brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the cream slowly until it emulsifies into the sugar mixture, then add the vanilla and brandy. Increase heat to high and cook for 5 more minutes or until caramel comes to a low boil.
6. Turn off heat and stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Caramel sauce will thicken as it cools. Cool caramel and then cover saucepan and refrigerate until ready to serve.
7. When Ready to Bake: Preheat oven to 350°. Bring cake and caramel to room temperature. Cover loosely with foil and bake cake for 40 minutes. Remove cake from oven, discard foil and push the additional 2 cups chopped apples halfway into the top of the cake so the tops of the apples are evident. Return to oven for about another 40 minutes, uncovered.
8. Check for doneness in middle of cake with a dry knife. (Baking times will vary slightly depending on each oven.) Add a loose cover of foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes and if top is golden brown.
9. Remove cake from oven. Warm caramel on low on the stove. Pour 1/4 cup of caramel sauce on serving plates and place a piece of warm cake on top. Drizzle with two tablespoons more caramel sauce.