Salted caramel apple skillet cake

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m practically pelting you with salted caramel. I apologize for getting in a rut and dragging you along with me. You deserve better.

But. It’s salted caramel. I can’t help it.

When I get into cooking ruts, it’s normally a red flag for me to keep it the heck off my blog, lest I write about nothing else for weeks. (I spared y’all from my zucchini obsession earlier this summer — you’re welcome. Although I should’ve shared the zucchini butter because it was totally groovy.)

But I sort of feel okay about the salted caramel. It’s just so dang awesome, both in pies and cakes.

And, of course, licked right off the spoon in all its various cooking stages. (Quality control, people. con.trol.)

Me and apples have a long and happy baking history. I used to spend my autumn weekends creating incredibly complex, competition-level apple pies, obsessing over the sweet-and-spicy balance of the filling, and decorated with no less finesse than one does a celebration cake.

The outer corner of my right eye starts twitching when I think about reliving those hours huddled over pie crusts and bubbling apple filling. {shiver}

Nothing makes me happier than a free-form dessert — no fussing, no pitpicking. Mix, pour, stir — that’s right up my alley.

Along with butterflies and fluffy clouds and perfectly imperfect heirloom tomatoes, it’s a cosmic reward that caramel is so easy to cook up. Heat sugar until it liquefies into brown caramelized goodness. Stir in some butter. Sprinkle generously with the best salt in your pantry. Add some cream, if that’s your thing (it’s definitely mine). And boom! — sweet and salty dream sauce.

Oh, and I also {heart} my iron skillets — everything just cooks so beautifully in them. You’d think a cake would burn to a crisp, but it just doesn’t. And cast iron can be had for a song — completely affordable at Target (they carry the U.S.A.-made Lodge brand), and an absolute steal at flea markets.

Karen xo

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Salted Caramel Apple Skillet Cake

for the cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup lukewarm milk, heated to about 100°F
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

for the salted caramel apples
2 tart apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced (I used winesap apples)
1 splash lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 big pinches fleur de sel or sel de gris
1/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk

10″ cast iron skillet

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare the cake batter: Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the egg in a medium bowl until scrambled, then slowly add the milk, followed by the butter, whisking all the while. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla paste. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined – the batter will be loose. Set aside.

Make the salted caramel: Spread out the sugar evening in the bottom of the skillet and place over medium heat. When the sugar begins to melt, use a heat-safe spatula to stir gently until the sugar liquifies. Turn the heat to medium-low. Keep an eye on the caramel: if it turns very dark or begins to smoke, pull the pan off the burner and keep stirring for several minutes. Add the butter and salt and stir until combined.

Assemble the cake and bake: Add the spiced apple slices to the skillet, turning and mixing until well coated with the salted caramel. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and stir.

Spoon the cake batter over the caramel apple mixture. Swirl the spoon through the pan to mix the batter with the caramel. Place the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake – cast iron retains heat exceptionally well and will continue baking the cake for a bit after coming out of the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream or, my preference, vanilla bean or cinnamon ice cream.

Prep Time: 10 minutes       Cook + Bake time: about 50 minutes       Yield: 6-8 servings

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