To go with my hearty Sunday dinner I wanted a delicious, seasonal dessert. I pulled a recipe for Caramel Apple Layer cake from my recipe binder, where I'd been saving it for some time, and got prepared to bake. Then I thoroughly read the recipe and saw it called for more that FOUR sticks of butter. I simply could not bring myself to prepare something quite so fattening so I shoved the recipe back into the binder and grabbed my Best of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Desserts cookbook to try to find something similar.
I almost immediately found this recipe for Country Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce. It captured the same flavors as the Rachael Ray cake, but was practically diet food in comparison. The only change I made to this recipe was the flavor of quick bread mix I used. I have never seen nut quick bread in my NJ grocery stores (maybe it's a regional thing) so I choose cranberry instead to keep with the fall flavors and just added some additional walnuts.
This cake was super easy to assemble and smelled delicious in the oven. I let it cool while we ate dinner, and once the dishes were done I whipped up the decadent caramel sauce to drizzle hot over the cake. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and - YUM! The cake itself is great - not overly sweet, moist and full of tender apple chunks. The cranberry turned out to be a great accompaniment too. The "naked" cake could probably be eaten for breakfast (and probably will be!). In fact, I had a "naked" slice later that night while watching True Blood (What? We ate early!) But don't skip the caramel sauce when you serve this for dessert! It's thick and rich, just like caramel should be and really adds something. Everyone loved this and I will definitely make it again. Who needs four sticks of butter anyway?
Country Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15.4 oz.) package cranberry quick bread mix
3c ups apple pie filling
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
SAUCE AND TOPPING
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 qt. vanilla ice cream (optional -but highly recommended!)
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13 x 9-inch pan with no-stick cooking spray. Combine oil and eggs in large bowl; beat well. Add quick bread mix, apple pie filling, cinnamon and nutmeg; stir 50 to 75 strokes with spoon until mix is moistened. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Spoon into prepared pan; spread evenly.
Bake 43 to 50 minutes or until cake is deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes while making sauce.
Combine sugar, brown sugar, butter and whipping cream in medium saucepan; mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
Cut warm cake into squares; place on individual dessert plates. Top each serving with warm sauce and ice cream, if desired.