I’m typically an unrelenting fangirl for Fall. But this year, it snuck up on me, and now I’m looking at Halloween coming soon and Thanksgiving in only a few weeks. Where did the time go? How did I let the yearly inundation of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the new line of plaid t-shirts at Target commence without celebration? Is this what adult-ing is? Getting so caught up in grownup-ness and adult-y endeavors that you let the coziest, most fragrant time of year slip by?
It’s a progression though, I think. You get older, your responsibilities and focuses grow broader, and you overlook the wanderlust that brought stars to your eyes once upon a time. In days past, I’d go weak in the knees at the aisles of orange-hued everything in Hobby Lobby, pondering how I could incorporate that 5-pound bag of pine cones into our home decor, and convincing myself buying it was the most exquisite and exciting purchase I’d ever make.
This year, the time to rejoice in the autumn season just kind of slipped by… and now we’re only a few weeks away from pulling down the Christmas decorations from the attic and saying so long to the burnt reds, browns, and oranges that bring a warmth to my soul. I think a lot of it is this new stage of motherhood. It rearranged my focus, my priorities, and my excitement. Things that used to light my fire take a while to kindle now, but that’s okay. Slowly the old things that used to make my heart go pitter-patter come back to light.
While I don’t run to apples as an addition to baked goods, they stared at me from behind the piles of kitchen towels last week and convinced me it was their time to shine. This Apple Spice Cake is inspired by Martha Stewart’s version, but I changed it up quite a bit to fit our tastes. In the past, I’ve had spice cakes that take the “spice” portion of the name serious to an epic degree, making it almost unpleasant to eat… like an overly scented candle or something. The only spices in this are vanilla and a good bit of cinnamon. And it was perfect. The light sweetness of the apples perfectly balanced the aromatic spices, and the cream cheese icing on top is never NOT a good idea. I added a bit of maple syrup to the icing, because I have a lot of Fall fangirling to make up for.
We shared this cake with quite a few people, and we got some pretty self-esteem-boosting feedback. It was our contribution to dessert one evening at one of our friend’s house, and it was a much-needed pick-me-up for the boy and his coworkers since this is their crazy-busy time of year. We not only heard compliments in the form of coherent sentences, but also in the form of mildly inappropriate noises.
I hope it does the same for you.
Apple Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
For the cake
- 1 1/3 cups unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 4 small apples peeled, cored, and grated (or sliced into tiny pieces)
For the icing
- 8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 4 oz unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the butter and sugar in increments, alternating between the flour and buttermilk. Start and end with the flour.
- Fold in the grated apples until combined. Pour into two prepared round 8″ cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until fluffy, about a minute. Slowly add the maple syrup and vanilla, then the powdered sugar in increments. Beat until fluffy and well combined on medium speed, about a minute.
- Let the cakes cool down. Once they are at room temperature, flip out of the pans. Using a long, sharp knife, cut the domed top off of one of the cake layers. Spread with half of the cream cheese icing, then place the other cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the cream cheese on top.