I love fall. Even though the leaves here don't change color, it still feels different - the dropping temperatures, the morning mist, the smell of wet pavement, the promise of pumpkin-spice lattes, the Christmas decorations that go up in stores the moment Halloween ends - every moment feels festive.
I think part of it also has to do with the anticipation of holidays that involve being in community with each other, whether it's going door-to-door, as with trick-or-treating and Christmas caroling, or gathering around the dinner table for a ridiculously heavy meal. And this cake is perfect for any occasion or visit that may arise: it's quick and easy (in other words, perfect for my busy grad school schedule), feeds a small crowd, and with it's assortment of spices and the inclusion of apples in two incarnations, it tastes like autumn. As a bonus, it tastes better the day after it's baked (though it's very tasty the day of, too).
This cake includes fresh, shredded apples and apple butter - the recipe says that either plain or spiced apple butter is fine. I used an apple butter that was spiced with cinnamon and cloves, and I loved the extra flavor it gave the cake. The shredded apples kind of melted into the cake, so you couldn't really tell they were in there, which disappointed me a little - I thought there would be small bits of apple in each bite. Still, though, I can't complain - after all, this cake makes it possible to get the cinnamon-apple goodness of homemade apple pie in a fraction of the time.
1 cup store-bought apple butter (I used Tropical brand)
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter and flour a 9- to 10-inch Bundt pan (unless it's silicone - then there's no need).
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed with a hand mixer, scraping the bowl as needed, for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth, thick and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter. Add the grated apple and mix to completely blend. Don't worry if the batter looks curdled - that's normal. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the pecans.
Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with the spatula. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding and cooling the cake to room temperature.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Store at room temperature. Wrap well with plastic.