Well, it seems like I've been away for a long time and that its been a crazy couple of weeks. Between the earthquake, Hurricane Irene, the end of summer, and some traveling it's felt like a whirlwind. I haven't been able to blog as much as I'd like lately and I've missed it terribly but I'm excited to be back and entering this new season which is my absolute favorite time of the year. Ask anyone who knows me, but I am an absolute nut about fall-- sweaters, spiced cider, pumpkin bread (my friend Erin has the best recipe), fall leaves, apple picking, cool weather-- I just love it.
Since I met my husband, the first official kick-off of fall is his family reunion in western Pennsylvania which we just returned from this week. Its always a great time- great family, lots of laughing, and you guessed it-- great food. I have to say, I was very disappointed there were no bear sightings this year but I guess these things aren't controlled by us. :) I did my best to round up some recipes from his side of the family which I hope will appear in future blog posts as there are some good cooks on that side of the family!
As for these cupcakes-- they are a great way to start your fall baking. I sent them to my husband's office and they were a huge hit. The addition of the wheat flour to the batter give the cake a little bulk without making it taste too much like a muffin and the cinnamon cream cheese icing is a perfect offset. I loved how the cupcake was full of bites of apple and toasted pecan, although if you don't like nuts or are worried about allergies, this would taste great without the nuts as well.
Apple Pecan Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used white whole-wheat flour) *
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups, golden delicious or granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
* White whole-wheat flour can be found at larger grocery store chains and specialty stores on the baking aisle. I buy mine at Kroger or Trader Joes. Its milled from white spring wheat instead from red wheat which gives it its lighter color.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coarsely chop the pecans and spread on a baking sheet. Toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove and allow pecans to cool slightly.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the oil with the sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until light, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, beating after each addition until smooth. The batter will be very thick and doughlike. Add the apples, pecans, and vanilla and mix until just combined. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. This cake is extremely moist so you may need to add additional cooking time. Allow muffin pans to cool on a wire rack before frosting.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pound (2 eight oz. packages) cream cheese, softened slightly, cut into pieces.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened slightly, cut into pieces
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a medium-size bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat. Gradually add the powdered sugar and cinnamon and beat until well incorporated.
Allow icing to thicken slightly in the refrigerator before frosting cupcakes. I use an 18-inch pastry bag and a large pastry tip to decorate my cupcakes. In this case, I used a large closed star tip to get this swirled effect.
Cake and Icing adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook