October Cake

It's been too long since I've written a post.  I've been fiddling with the blog design, which is an ever evolving process of tweaking something, making a big mistake, trying to fix it, and starting all over again.  This was the explanation I gave to my high school guidance counselor when we met to discuss why I was failing sewing class my freshman year.  Basically, it was nearing the end of the semester and I had turned in nothing.  I couldn't get past our first project, making a stuffed rabbit.  It was to be made from a fabric of my choosing.  I chose florals and lace with the idea of creating a Victorian masterpiece, a design the Laura Ashley company would want to add to their home collection.  No one told me that sewing required patience and practice before I could turn out perfection.  After a semester of seam ripping, multiple restarts, cursing under my breath, and parent-teacher meetings, I finally finished a rabbit worthy of county fair entry rather than the Laura Ashley Home Collection.  At that point, nobody cared what it looked like, they just wanted me to finish and end our collective misery.  In the end, my home-ec teacher took pity on my obsessive compulsive  proclivities and graded me on quality rather than quantity.  It still follows that when I get an idea for how I want something to look, I can't move on until it's exactly the way I had envisioned.  As illustrated, this obsession with perfection can sometimes be a curse.

Sewing and I never reconnected after that and later in life baking became my thing.  As of lately, cakes have been my focus and October Cake is one I've been thinking on for the past year.  The important ingredient in the cake is apple cider.  Using a locally made cider is worth your while for the quality of the taste and we are now in the height of apple season, so why not enjoy the fruits of the harvest?  I picked up a half gallon produced by our local apple orchard.  The idea for this cake was adapted from a 1959 copy of Farm Journal's Country Cookbook.  In this book, the recipe is titled Cider and Spice Cake, but an accompanying note said it was referred to by someone's grandmother as October Cake and that's the name I liked best because it speaks to its seasonal appeal.  The filling has a wonderful tart flavor set against the backdrop of apple and spice.  

October Cake

3 cups sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (freshly squeezed is preferable)
1 cup apple cider

Cider Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. constarch
1 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (freshly squeezed is preferable)
2 Tbsp. butter

Creamy Cider Icing
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup apple cider
3 cups sifted confectioners sugar

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 ℉.  Butter and flour 3 round 8" cake pans.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.  Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, and beat until thoroughly blended.

Add lemon juice to cider.  Add alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating after each addition.

Pour batter into the 3 prepared pans.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes are golden and spring-back when touched.  

Set the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before you flip them over and turn the cakes out to further cool on the racks.

For the cider filling:  Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in saucepan.  Add cider and combine.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick and somewhat clear.  Remove from heat and add lemon juice and butter.  Set aside to cool.

For the creamy cider icing:  Melt the butter in a saucepan, then blend in the the flour and salt.  Add the cider and stir well.  Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add the confectioners sugar and beat well.

Assemble the cake by spreading half the cider filling on one cake round. Set another round on top and spread the rest of the cider filling on top of that layer. Top it with the third round and then frost the top and sides with the creamy cider icing.  Top with something like walnuts or pecans or maybe even a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar and you'll have a beautiful fall cake that wears the flavor of the season.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying your blog as-is .... don't tinker too much with it ;-)