For a Sweet New Year, It's Apples -- or Is It?: Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

I searched for an apple recipe to make something to bring to work for Rosh Hashanah, and I thought that the Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting from King Arthur Flour looked promising. The headnote describes it as a "moist, semi-chunky cake, spread with the frosting equivalent of brown sugar fudge," and the recipe has earned a solid five-star rating from reviewers.

Plus, the recipe is so easy; peeling, coring, and chopping the apples is the most labor-intensive part. The first step is to mix together flour (I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat), sugar, baking soda, salt cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, eggs, and softened butter all at once; I ended up with a dry, crumbly mixture. The second step is to add chopped apples (I used Pink Lady) and toasted pecans, and mix until the apples release some of the juice to turn the crumbly mess into a thick batter. You spread the batter into a 9-inch by 13-inch pan and bake.
After the cake is baked and cooled, you spread on a warm frosting made by beating powdered sugar and vanilla with a cooked mixture of butter, brown sugar, milk, and salt. I left the cake out at room temperature overnight and sliced it the following morning. The frosting had set into a fudgy layer that stayed nice and neat. The cake was heavy and very moist. I liked the cake a lot, although I did think the frosting was a touch sweet. My first thought after taking a bite was that the cake tasted like zucchini bread to me. My husband thought it tasted like carrot cake. I never thought about it before, but I guess that the flavor and texture profile for carrot cake, zucchini cake, and this apple cake are all pretty much the same -- a dense spice cake with nuts.

While my tasters and I enjoyed the cake, I wouldn't make it again -- in general, I just don't find apple cakes all that interesting, unless they have something to make them more memorable, like the cinnamon topping in the 1881 Coffee Cake's Dutch Apple Walnut Loaf. I prefer both of the recipes I made last year for Rosh Hashanah -- a Honey Cake and a Crusty Apple Pie that are also both from King Arthur Flour -- better than this one.

Recipe: "Old-Fashioned Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting" from King Arthur Flour.