Confession time: I’m not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving! Not even a toe. There will be no cooking, no bird basting, no celery chopping, just the sweet sound of Broadway tunes from the parade on the TV. And then I’ll be waddling down to the beach. That’s it! I’m so excited. I can’t take credit for this idea, it’s all the brainchild of my mom’s side of the family who has been organizing an epic Thanksgiving weekend Florida family reunion that I have been looking forward to for months.
My dream is that I’ll somehow be able to acquire a turkey and cranberry on rye on the beach, and I’m loosely tempted to bring boxes of pre-made stuffing for all of my relatives to hydrate in their hotel coffee pots. (Certainly weirder things have been done, no?) But if my options are poolside chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard, I won’t be mad. Because 1) we already had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner during filming for the Girl Meets Farm Thanksgiving episode, and 2) I’ll be with my awesome cool fam for the first time since cousin Ellie’s Bat Mitzvah! And that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about, right??? Being with your loved ones?? WOW, this got mushy fast.
The one main kitchen thing that I will really miss this year is watching Eggboy make his pumpkin pie. He really hit his stride last year and, I don’t know, there is something so warm and fuzzy about seeing someone who you love so much getting excited about a thing that you love so much. Eggboy in the kitchen is truly somethin rad. Maybe he’ll make his pie for Chrismukkah…
Our plans to go to Florida reminded me of one of the last times I spent Thanksgiving in Florida, in my college days. For a few good years in a row, we all got together and cooked a feast at my cousin Jamie’s house. It was always a super solid classic Thanksgiving meal and for dessert there were definitely a few pies, but there was also this caramel apple loaf cake that looked pretty ugly but, oh goodness, it was soo good. It had a deeply caramelized flavor and it was wildly dense, but it was broken up by big chunks of crisp tart apples. It was the kind of cake that you just couldn’t walk by without shaving off *one* more sliver. A hot contender for winning the honor of Ending Bite, indeed.
This cake is inspired by that cake, which holds a place in our family cookbook. I’ve swapped in some whole wheat flour to add nuttiness and given it a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting that adds the correct amount of tang and creaminess. Also, I screwed something up so that you don’t have to: I tried making this with the gala apples from our trees and honeycrisp apples from the store. They were both too moist and the batter, as thick as it was when it went into the pan, just didn’t reach the right consistency during baking. So use Granny smiths because they are super starchy and firm and they won’t add too much moisture to the batter. But past that, this cake is very unfussy and can totally be made a day in advance. If you, like me, are not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving, or maybe you’ve got your pie lineup set in stone already, keep this cake on hand for later in the season because its warmth and coziness is perfect for any winter occasion.
And I am using Our Family ingredients in this cake! I find I use Our Family products even more during the holidays, when time is usually tight to buy a lot of groceries for all of my holiday parties and I just need easy to find, inexpensive, very reliable ingredients. They are the perfect party planning helpers! Thanks for sponsoring this post, Our Family!
caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting
makes one loaf
2 1/4 c (292g) all-purpose flour
3/4 c (98g) whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cardamom
1 c (200g) brown sugar
1 c (200g) sugar
3/4 c (150g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large granny smith apples, chopped into 1/4”-1/2” pieces (4 c (368g) chopped)
Cream cheese frosting:
8 oz (226g) Our Family cream cheese, softened
1 c (120g) powdered sugar
1/4 c heavy cream
A pinch of kosher salt
15 storebought caramels
3 tb whole milk
a big pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line a Pullman Loaf pan (8 1/2” X 4”, or similar) with parchment paper, allowing 1” wings to come up on two of the sides.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each, and then add the vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then fold in the apples. It will be very thick! Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness after an hour, but it could take up to 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan and then transfer to a serving plate. (You can totally bake this a day in advance and let it cool overnight, uncovered.)
To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the heavy cream and salt until combined. Spread it over the cake.
To make caramel, melt ingredients together over low heat in a saucepan while stirring (or in a microwave), and let cool slightly.
Just before serving, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Enjoy!