November, the gateway into the holiday season, is a special time for many. November is also a reminder that physical time is passing quickly and that the turn of a new year is swiftly approaching. The leaves falling to the ground in order for new ones to grow externalizes the changes in our bodies and lives in order to start anew. I just love how that works.
November also holds personal significance for me, a spring to the winter of my life’s journey. Six years ago on a cool, autumn morning in Santa Monica, CA I married my husband. What felt like years in the making was only the inception of a love and life that has brought us literally around the world and back again to be together. Exactly one year later, to the day, my dad passed away suddenly. His passing, furthermore on my one-year wedding anniversary, has been much of the inspiration of my introspection to find significance, not sorrow. I have to say, I never felt robbed by the fact that the two events would eventually be remembered as one, November 7. It’s no wonder to me that the Lord allowed my two favorite men, my past and my future, to be remembered on one special day. And when the year gets long, my heart gets heavy and my memories begin to fade, time always takes me back to November again.
This time of year is my favorite for DIY projects. It’s also a great time to forage pieces of nature that have fallen to the ground to use for projects. Also, a great use for some of your leftover Halloween pumpkins. Here’s what’s going on around the house this week.
Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake with Buttermilk Icing
This is the ultimate fall dessert. It’s a perfect alternative to traditional holiday pies or a great bake-ahead to bring to a party. The longer it sits, the better it gets.
For the cake:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup butter, room temperature (save wrappers to prep the cake pans)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (my husband was helping me and accidentally used baking soda…the cake came out fine)
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 apples (I used honey crisp) peeled, chopped
For the buttercream:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
For the buttermilk caramel icing:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans by greasing the pans with butter wrappers.
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. In another bowl, sift flour and baking powder. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture by hand. Add milk into batter until smooth.
Mentally divide your batter into fourths. Each pan will use two layers (each layer will be 1/4 total batter). Pour 1/4 of batter into each pan, reserving half of the batter in the bowl. Add 1/4 apples and 1/4 brown sugar mixture to each pan and gently pat into the batter. Then, add another layer of batter, apples and brown sugar mixture.Bake 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. While cakes are baking make butter cream and buttermilk caramel icing. For buttercream combine butter, vanilla, cinnamon and powdered sugar and one tablespoon cream with a mixer on high for one minute. If mixture seems too thick add another tablespoon cream until spreadable.
Place strips of parchment paper on cake stand. Assemble the cake by placing the bottom layer of cake on top of parchment paper. Spread buttercream on top of bottom player and top with other layer of cake. Let sit while making the buttermilk caramel icing. In a cold non-stick saucepan, add sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, baking soda and vanilla. Combine and bring to a slow boil at medium-high heat. No need to stir while bubbling. The icing will turn to a light caramel in 5 to 7 minutes. The caramel should be sticky and pourable, not firm. Allow the icing to cool for 3 minutes and pour slowly over the cake. The cake is amazing while warm, but only gets better with time.