Every time summer ends I have a short period of grief until I remember how beautiful and exciting fall time is. The brightly coloured leaves, the slightly crisp and cool air, pumpkins, apples, and cinnamon-spiced everything. The temperature is usually the perfect chill, great for knitted sweaters, turtlenecks, long socks, and skirts, making it the best time of the year to be stylish with layers, but not suffocated in layers. My birthday also happens to be in October, so I may be a little biased when I say fall time is my favourite time of the year. I also always find that autumn feels like the perfect time for reflection and reinvention — afterall, nature itself takes the season to reset. All the leaves, flowers, and grass die, yet we all still seem to find beauty in it.
I recently took a break from taking cake orders because I didn’t always feel proud of the work I was putting out. I realized I was too concerned with being a people-pleaser than putting out works of art that I was happy, and really truly reflected my style and creative expression. Since then I’ve been attempting to perfect my style and brand values before I fully dive back into the world of cake making. This cake is a representation of all of this, while also being a great way to use up some apples from my huge 20lb bag of apples I picked myself, with my fiancé.
I used a slightly warm toned palette of beige, orange-y brown, pink, and red, with a few accents of green leaves to make everything stand out. I really felt like this palette, along with the flowers, falling leaves, and “apples” reflected the fall season. To create this cake, I added small dot of gel brown food colouring to my plain Italian meringue buttercream to make it go from a slight yellow cream colour to a beige. I used this same beige to create three large rosettes on the top of my cake, using a large wilton closed star tip, but an open star tip of any size works perfectly for a rosette.
Next, I added more “flowers” by using the same tip but adding a dot of red gel food colouring to the beige to make a pale, muted blush pink colour. I used a drop-piping technique to just add a dot of buttercream in the shape of a flower, adding a few to the top, as well as a few on the side of the cake. I accentuated the flowers using some dark green leaves, which I made using a mixture of green gel food colouring, and a little bit of black gel food colouring. This makes the green muted and dark, making it look more realistic. I piped all my leaves by cutting a corner into my piping bag to create a home-made leaf tip, and used the same bag even when switching buttercream colours in order to have streaks and mixed coloured leaves. It’s always good to remember nature is never perfect, and that’s what makes it perfect. I also mixed an orange-y brown colour by adding a lot of brown gel food colouring, and orange powdered colour to the plain buttercream, and I used this colour as the second colour of leaves on the cake in order to really tie in the fall theme.
Lastly, I went and mixed up a dark red buttercream by taking the orange-brown colour, and adding about half a tsp of powdered red food colouring. I piped little round mounds using a #2 plain tip, but any plain tip will do. I piped multiple round mounds to represent the apples in the cake, but also to tie in the light pink with the beige, brown, and green.
Feel free to watch the video tutorial below!
Spiced Apple Cake
For the apple filling
200g or 1 medium cortland apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small 1cm x 1cm cubes
50g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
15g (1 tbsp) lemon juice
10g (1 tbsp) flour
5g (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
1g (1/2 tsp) grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
125g (1/2 cup) water
For the spiced cake
63g (1/3 cup) white sugar
63g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
72g (1/3 cup) soft butter
110g (1/2 cup) flour
5g (1 tsp) baking powder
2g (2 tsp) ground cinnamon
1g (1 tsp) grated nutmeg
0.5g (1/2 tsp) ground ginger
0.25g ( 1/4 tsp) clove
1g (1/4 tsp) salt
80g (1/3 cup) milk
5g (1 tsp) vanilla
For the apple filling
- Place apple cubes into a into a medium saucepan with the lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and water. Stir well to combine.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly until the mixture is thick, and apples are tender. About 7-10 min.
- Place into a shallow disk with plastic wrap on it to chill.
For the cake
- Grease and line 2 x 5″ round cake pans.
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a medium mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy. Add the egg, and mix until pale and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, whisk and sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and salt.
- Add half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, mix for 10 seconds on low. Add in the milk and vanilla, and mix for 5 seconds. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, and mix for 15 seconds, blasting the mixture on high speed for the last 5 seconds.
- Hand fold all the ingredients to ensure an evenly-mixed batter.
- Divide between prepared pans and bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
For the recipe and in-depth tutorial on buttercream, check it out here.