Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

2016-11-26

We often get asked to bring dessert to dinner parties. This past Saturday evening, I made two desserts from a used cookbook I acquired recently: brownies (with and without walnuts) for the kids in attendance, and this more grown-up walnut and apple layer cake.

Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

The recipe consists of making three components, then assembly. First up, the walnut cake. This is a sponge cake made with both ground walnuts and almonds. Since yolks aren’t needed, I purchased a container of pasteurized egg whites. I can’t remember whether I’ve ever used a product like this, but my experience was pretty positive. The pure egg whites were homogeneous and liquid, and whipped up just like fresh ones would.

Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

While the cake baked, I worked on the caramelized apples. Following the advice of Tish Boyle in the linked recipe above, I didn’t use the juice of a whole lemon, but a teaspoon in total. An acid helps prevent crystallization when making a wet caramel from scratch but I didn’t want to make the filling too sour. I added a few spoonfuls of water to make up for the reduced lemon juice. I didn’t let the molten syrup get to 374°F as it had already achieved a golden brown colour before then. After adding the cream gradually, I stirred in cubed Golden Delicious apples until they were soft. Note that I followed the specified weight (680 g) rather than the subjective description of “3 small apples”.

Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

The apple mixture is quite runny, so you’re supposed to drain the fruit and discard the caramel. However, I saved it in a squeeze bottle, as I thought (correctly) that people would enjoy drizzling it over their servings.

Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

To ice the cake, this recipe calls for a simple cream cheese frosting flavoured with an apple liqueur. I used apfelkorn instead of Calvados, and also reduced the amount of heavy cream, as I wanted something that wouldn’t be too soft.

Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

One other time-saving purchase, was fried candied walnuts from T&T Supermarket. They’re found in the bakery section of the store, and are a pricey, but incredibly satisfying treat. I used these to garnish the top of the cake.

Walnut Layer Cake with Apple-Caramel Filling and Calvados Cream Cheese Icing

Overall, everyone really enjoyed the flavours of this cake. Echoing Boyle’s assessment in the recipe headnote, I also found the cake to be a bit tough and dry, so the extra apple caramel was a welcome accompaniment. Unlike her opinion of the frosting, I found it sweet enough for my taste.

If I ever make this again, I would consider splitting the cake into three layers, and then increasing the amount of apples, so that there would be a greater fruit-to-cake ratio.

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