Apple cider cake
Apple cider donuts are one of my favorite parts of fall, so I knew we needed a dessert inspired by the fall treat! This browned butter apple cider cake has a light and moist texture and is brushed with apple cider after being baked and topped with the perfect amount of cinnamon sugar.
Living with diabetes, even though I've worked hard to incorporate all of the foods I love - juice is something I often stay away from unless I have a low blood sugar. I wanted to challenge myself to enjoy some apple cider this fall, and the perfect way to do that was to incorporate it into a recipe so that I could enjoy the leftover cider as well!
For this cake, you'll use apple cider both in the batter and brushed on top to make sure you get just the right amount of cider flavor. I didn't include any spices in the cake itself, though you certainly could get creative there, incorporating them with the dry ingredients if you’d like. It's not required to do the cinnamon sugar topping and brush of apple cider, but I highly recommend it - it brings the cake from delicious, to the perfect fall treat.
This recipe does require a stand or hand mixer to ensure the ingredients are properly mixed. One thing that isn't required, even though I do highly recommend it, is browning your butter. If you don't want to go through that step you could instead just melt your butter and follow the rest of the steps from there. I love the flavor though that the added brown butter brings and it really does give it an added warmth. If you don’t have a mixer available, you can use a large bowl and whisk. It will be extra important that your eggs and cider are at room temperature if you don’t use a mixer, and just know that the best outcome will come from using a mixer.
Once you put the cinnamon sugar topping on, it's best to enjoy the cake the same day as the cinnamon sugar will melt in a bit to the cake after about a day. That said, it will still taste incredible even if left out at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days. You can also freeze the slices with the topping added, which I'll share instructions for at the end of the recipe. Another option if you wanted to bake the cake ahead and serve another day, you can store the baked cake in the fridge or freezer without doing the brushed apple cider and cinnamon sugar step, and then when you're ready to serve you can bring the cake to room temperature, complete those last steps, and enjoy!
Apple cider cake
2 sticks unsalted butter 226g
3/4 cup granulated sugar 144g
1/3 cup light brown sugar 64g
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup apple cider 120g
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 210g
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Cinnamon sugar topping
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup apple cider
Total time: Under 2 hours including chill time
Prep time: About 20 minutes
Bake time: 21-23 minutes
Chill time: About an hour prior to slicing
Servings: 16 squares
Nonstick heavy bottomed pot
Stand mixer with paddle attachment (or hand mixer + large heatproof bowl)
Spatula or large spoon
9x9 inch square pan (or 8x8)
Take your apple cider and eggs out of the fridge to allow them to come closer to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Brown your butter. Place both sticks of butter in a pot or pan (I recommend using a nonstick heavy bottomed pot) on the stovetop over a low to medium heat. After it melts, you'll hear it begin to crackle. Stir the melted butter and watch it carefully as it can burn easily. You'll start to smell a nutty aroma (you'll know it when it happens). Once you see the color turn to a light brown or amber, remove your pot from the heat and transfer your butter and all of the brown bits at the bottom into your stand mixer bowl (or a large heatproof bowl if you're using a hand mixer).
Add in both sugars and begin your mixer with the paddle attachment. Allow it to run at a medium to high speed for about two minutes.
Next, add in your eggs and vanilla. Bring your mixer slowly back up to a high speed and continue to mix for another two minutes. Then, bring your mixer down to a medium speed and while it's mixing, slowly pour in your 1/2 cup of apple cider. Continue mixing for another minute until fully combined.
Then, add in your dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Bring your mixer to a medium speed for about a minute. Pause and scrape down the sides of your bowl and paddle attachment, being sure you reach down to the bottom of your bowl. Allow your mixer to run for another 30 seconds or so until your batter has formed.
Once your batter is ready, line a 9x9in square pan (or you can use an 8x8 pan and increase the cook time a bit) with parchment paper. Pour your batter into the pan and bake for 21-23 minutes. It'll be done when the top is lightly golden, and the cake doesn't jiggle when you shake it slightly.
Allow the cake to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Then, measure out your 1/3 cup of apple cider. In a separate, small bowl mix your cinnamon and sugar. Use a pastry/basting brush to brush on your apple cider. Be patient and move slow so that you don't soak any one area with too much cider, and be sure to reach into the corners. Then, sprinkle your cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of your cake. Once done, pick up your cake and shake it from side to side to ensure the cinnamon sugar evenly coats the top of your cake.
Let the cake cool for another 30 minutes, then slice into 16 squares and enjoy!
This cake will taste its best the same day you bake and add your topping to it, but it also freezes incredibly well. Once sliced and fully cooled, you can wrap your squares in plastic wrap and store in the freezer in an airtight container or plastic bag - just leave a square out at room temperature for about 30 minutes and it'll be ready to enjoy again. If you want to bake the cake ahead of time and serve at another time, I recommend storing the cake in the fridge for a day or two covered or freezing the full cake and waiting to do the apple cider brush and cinnamon sugar until you're ready to serve (just bring the cake to room temperature first).
Carb and serving info:
Servings: 16 squares
Carbs for full recipe: 438
Carbs per serving (1 of 16): 27
Carbs from apple cider & cinnamon sugar topping: 46
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.