Summer is probably my favourite season because I love the sun and being able to wear shorts and sun dresses, but there is a place in my heart for autumn too, as with the other seasons. I do find that after a few months (if we're lucky) of going without I do start to yearn for jumpers and coats again, so I'm glad I live in a country that has real seasons. Granted, sometimes the seasons can merge into a six to eight month winter, but I like having different clothes for different times of the year. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with taking your coat out of the cupboard for the first time after the summer, just as there is when you put it away for the last time before spring and summer begin.
I probably shouldn't be talking about clothes - this is a food blog, after all - but they, like food, are an integral part of my seasons.
As I mentioned in the announcement for this month's Baking With Spirit, my food associations for autumn are blackberries, apples (and the obligatory Apple & Blackberry Crumble), and pumpkins. I therefore thought it would be a fun idea to bake a cake that epitomises autumn for me by including apples, parsnips and cider.
Yep, completely logical. I think parsnips are in season now, but I could be very wrong. I am not a gardener/farmer/seasonal shopper of vegetables that are less than £1/kg. Conscientious shoppers, gardeners and farmers, please feel free to correct me.
Either way, today I am presenting you with a cake full of ingredients which I associate with autumn (even if they don't all make my top three). I've also added some nutmeg and cinnamon to the batter to increase the autumnal vibe, and have sandwiched it all together with some cream cheese buttercream. Not just any cream cheese buttercream, though: the best cream cheese buttercream you will ever try. I kid you not. I've waffled on about it before, and am considering making an entire post just for this cream cheese buttercream. It's that good.
Don't believe me? Take a gander at this cake and see for yourself. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed. The sponge itself is moist, light and flavoursome. The apple flavour comes through most, but the others interweave nicely. In short, it's a perfect cake for welcoming in the new season.
For the sponge:
- 1 Large Cooking Apple
- 1 Medium Parsnip
- 200g Plain Flour
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 200mL Sunflower Oil
- 3 Eggs
- 150mL Cider (I used Kopparberg Naked Apple)
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tsp Nutmeg
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 375g Butter (must be good quality)
- 12 Egg Yolks
- 90g Caster Sugar
- 150g Philadelphia Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line two sandwich tins with baking parchment.
- Peel the apple and parsnip, then grate into a mixing bowl (leave the core of the apple).
- Sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold into the apple and parsnip, along with the caster sugar.
- Combine the eggs, sunflower oil and cider in a jug and whisk until the liquid is smooth and the eggs are well mixed in.
- Pour the liquid into the mixing bowl and fold into the flour, apple and parsnip.
- Finally, fold in the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Bake in the oven for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- To make the cream cheese frosting, first place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of hot water, ensuring that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the pan.
- Gently heat the pan whilst whisking the yolks into the sugar until they begin to steam.
- Pour the yolk mixture into a mixing bowl and whisk until they have doubled in volume and are very pale.
- Chop the butter into small chunks and ensure they are at room temperature.
- Slowly whisk the butter into the yolk mixture, adding a chunk at a time. Stop adding butter once the buttercream is smooth and holds its shape.
- Whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.
- Decorate the cake as desired. I dusted the edges with cinnamon by tapping the bottle over the top edge of the cake so that cinnamon fell down the sides, catching on bits of the icing.
For this month's Baking With Spirit (and its anniversary!) I've asked everyone to bake something involving cider. This cake fits in rather well, so it'll be my entry this month. Feeling inspired? You have until the 28th to enter!
I just discovered a challenge called Four Seasons Food, which centres around cooking with the seasons and is hosted by Anneli at Delicieux and Louisa at Chez Foti. The theme is 'sliding into autumn', so I feel this cake was made for this challenge!
Finally, Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door is hosting this month's Feel Good Food Challenge (another one I've not entered before). The theme is apples, and since the cake contains said ingredient I think it probably qualifies! Victoria is celebrating her one year blogging anniversary too, so congratulations to her!