Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Apple Yogurt Spice Cake: An Excellent Frosting Delivery System

There are two types of people in the world:  those who love frosting, and those who love cake.  Perhaps a third type that I've only rarely encountered is the "just not that into sweets" person (never female), who isn't really worth discussing.  But frosting and cake lovers usually exist in equal proportions with a check/balance system perfectly tuned to yield no leftovers of either component.

I'm a long-time member of Camp Cake and am well-familiar with ritualistic frosting scraping at birthdays, but I do love a good lightly-sweetened whipped cream.  Unfortunately, cream icings don't hold up well to transportation, anything above room temperature, and definitely not entire days out in the sun.

But this one takes on the whipped cream texture excellently without any of the drama.  With a base of butter, regular sugar, and a thick cooked milk/flour mixture, it is only lightly sweet yet rich and creamy.  The perfect frosting for cake-lovers.

I made a full batch over a week ago based on a Pioneer Woman recipe, but it was way way too much for even 70-80 mini cupcakes (yes I was being skimpy because I hate too much frosting on cupcakes).  Instead of my first inclination (eating it with a spoon), I brought the second half to my parents' house and cobbled together a healthy-ish cake using a few different recipes to serve as a not-too-sweet, breakfast and dessert-appropriate frosting delivery system.

The cake itself is a great every day snack or brunch component, but not really a show-stopper until you add the frosting.  The next day it's even better when the cake becomes super moist and the spices really get a chance to develop.

Apple Yogurt Spice Cake

Makes one 9" (23cm) square cake
Total time: 50-70 min (Active time 20-30 min)

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 110g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (220g) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup (115g) plain yogurt
  • splash of milk (maybe 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (120g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup (75g) dried cranberries or raisins

Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C.  Butter and flour an 9"/23cm square pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla, yogurt, apple, and splash of milk and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and stir until just-mixed.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 375F/190C for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick/piece of dry spaghetti comes out clean when inserted into the middle (check it starting at 25 minutes to be on the safe side).

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then tip out onto a cooling rack until room temperature and ready to frost.

Cooked Frosting
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Makes about 2 cups of frosting (enough for a single-layer cake and then some)
Total time: 35 minutes (Active time 20 minutes)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (20g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (120mL) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 225g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, whisk flour and milk vigorously over medium heat until very very thick (once milk comes to a boil this happens very quickly).  Remove from the heat, stir in vanilla, and let cool to room temperature (this will take about 20 minutes or so, but you can put the pan into a bowl of ice to speed things along).
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  When the sugar is no longer grainy, add the cooled flour/milk/vanilla mixture and beat beat beat until it has a homogeneous texture of whipped cream (see here for great procedural photos).  This took about 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer on medium/high speed.

Frost cake as desired.  Revel in your success.


  1. I'm in the frosting camp, and this was delicious!

  2. I've been curious about the Pioneer Woman's cooked frosting. I am more in the fresh whipped cream camp, although I've never turned down any thing covered in cream cheese frosting. Ever.

  3. I'm a cake lover, luckily my husband (aka The Hungry One) is an icing fiend. I think this cake would live happily somewhere in the middle.... (nb, have just spent the most delightful hour or so trawling through the archives of your blog. Is pretty darn hilarious...)