Here is another contender for your holiday dessert menu. Apples. Pecans. Fall spices. A pocket of cheesecake filling inside. Praline frosting. This little bundt cake packs in a lot of flavors, and they are oh so good.
The first time I made this was for Thanksgiving a few years back, and it tasted great, but it was my first experience with the bundt pan, and it was a disaster. The cake would not release from the pan, so it was more of an apple-pecan spice crumble. It tasted really good and got rave reviews for the flavor, so I tried again, armed with Baker’s Joy, and it worked perfectly. I thought I had a picture from the disaster, but I have not been able to find it. Take my word for it and take my advice: spray or grease your pan WELL. You will put in a fair amount of work to make this cake, so you do not want it to end up stuck inside the pan. Baker’s Joy is one of my best friends in the kitchen.
Apple-Pecan Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
For the cream cheese filling:
- 8 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the cake:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped (approximately 3 cups)–I usually use 2 Granny Smith and 1 other variety
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped (toast a few extra pecans for garnish if desired)
For the praline frosting:
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Extra toasted pecan halves for garnish, if desired
- Prepare the apples.
- Make the cream cheese filling: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and sugar on medium speed until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, flour, and vanilla and continue beating just until incorporated. Set aside.
- Prepare the pecans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray lightly with cooking spray, and spread pecans in a single layer. Bake for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant. Finely chop and then set aside.
- Make the cake. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and spices. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and gently mix to combine using a rubber spatula or whisk.
- Gently fold in the toasted pecans and chopped apples until evenly distributed in batter.
- Spray a standard 12-cup bundt pan with Baker’s Joy or prepare with butter and flour.
- Spoon 1/2 to 2/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Top evenly with the cream cheese filling, being careful to leave a one inch border around the edge of the pan. Use a knife to gently swirl the filling with the cake batter a few times. Spoon the rest of the batter on top of the cream cheese filling and gently spread to the edges of the pan, being careful to cover the filling entirely. (Tip: I begin spooning the batter over the filling at the inside edge around the post of the bundt pan to prevent the filling from being pushed to the inside edge. I then spoon the batter around the outside edge of the pan to prevent the filling from being pushed out to the edges of the pan. Lastly, I spoon batter directly over the top of the filling and spread to fill in any exposed areas and to even it out.)
- Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. (Tip: The cream cheese filling makes it hard to test for done-ness because it makes the knife wet, so I just look and smell for other clues.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, place cake on a serving plate.
- Make the praline frosting: Combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for one minute, whisking constantly, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until it is completely incorporated and the frosting is smooth. (Tip: Use the frosting immediately or it will thicken and set and not drizzle onto the cake.)
- Slowly pour the frosting over the cooled cake, letting some frosting drizzle down the side and in the middle of the cake. Garnish with extra toasted pecan halves if you like. Give the frosting at least five minutes or so to set and then serve.
Source: Brown-eyed Baker