Apple tea cake with caramel sauce. It sounds so delectable this time of year. The leaves have mostly fallen from the trees and are covering the ground in a mass of crunchy brown. They have lost the vibrant oranges and yellows of October and November. The sky is usually grey here and invokes thoughts of “Brrr” (the beer is good, too). I start to load up on winter warmers and find myself scouring the shelves of grocery stores for the new release of the Abyss (even after I’ve found our quota of bottles for the cellar). I’m excited to get to drink Auld Acquaintance again. I’m making plans to make Wassail this year, or maybe even Flip!
At the end of the day, I want a sweet snack that tastes of winter: cinnamon, caramel, deep and buttery. But I also want something with a bit of zing. (It’s exactly what I want in my winter beer, as well.) We all need something to wake us up when the sun goes down (pretty early these days). Pink Lady apples are my favorite. They have the perfect balance of sweetness to tartness, and a great texture for baking. Best of all, they taste phenomenal when sauteed with some butter, brown sugar, and Auld Acquaintance.
Style: This beer is a winter warmer for sure. It’s a nice and hoppy one, brewed with some warming winter spices and orange peel. Pike says it’s brewed with the old legendary Wassail in mind. A warm spiced beer concoction brewed up in the fire for a cold winters eve. Some old recipes even include eggs. Think of Wassail as something like a beer-y version of eggnog. It sounds an awful lot like Flip – an old beer-based cocktail with old ale, rum, spices, and sometimes stuff like eggs… warmed with a hot poker from the fire and cooled by pouring back and forth between two mugs. The egg bit doesn’t sound appetizing, but who knows? This could be an interesting project.
Tasting notes: Deep and earthy with obvious contributions from the spices (mostly cinnamon, but I catch some clove and orange peel). I love the hop balance with this beer. The body is just right and the bitterness is purely refreshing.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Jubelale: Deeply roasty malts, spicy, and nicely refreshing. It’s not really winter to me without some Jubelale, and I love looking forward to the new art on the boxes and bottles every year. If you ever get the chance to visit the Deschutes brewery in Bend, OR, my favorite part of the tour is at the end where you get to walk down a hallway adorned with paintings featuring Jubelale art through the years.
Fremont Abominable: I absolutely love this winter warmer. I’m drinking a glass right now, in fact. It’s roasty and spicy, and the body is perfect. Not too syrupy, but not too dry. Just right. The bourbon barrel-aged version is amazing – try it in this cake for an extra special twist.
Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger: IMO, one of the most hop-forward winter beers around here. I’ve become a sort of hop-head in recent years, so I really enjoy it.
Full Sail Wassail: A solid winter warmer. It’s a bit more on the malty side compared with Jubelale, but I like it.
Nøgne Ø Winter Ale (God Jul): I just tried this for the first time a few weeks ago. It’s amazingly spicy. Probably the most spice-forward beer I’ve had in a long time. The warm winter spices I love, too: cinnamon, clove, maybe cardamom? Strangely, they list the ingredients on the bottle, but no spices are included. Could this be the awesomeness of their yeast strain?
The pastry recipes:
Auld Acquaintance Apple Cake
(makes one 8-inch by 8-inch square cake)
|1||apple (Pink Lady)|
|2 T (30 g)||butter|
|5 T (70 g)||brown sugar|
|2 T (30 g)||Auld Acquaintance|
|½ C (112 g)||granulated sugar|
|½ t||vanilla extract|
|¾ C (112g)||all purpose flour|
|1 ½ t||baking powder|
|7 T (100g)||melted butter|
|1 T||heavy cream|
|3 T||Auld Acquaintance|
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel, core, and slice the apple into wedges. Put the butter, brown sugar, and Auld Acquaintance in a sauce pan and cook on medium heat until combined and starting to bubble. Add the apples and cook them, turning frequently, until they are tender and starting to caramelize. The sauce in the pan should become sticky and like caramel. Set aside to cool.
2. Prepare a square pan (8-inches by 8-inches) by brushing with some melted butter, dusting with flour, and lining the bottom with parchment. Whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
3. Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and fold into the whipped egg mixture. Fold in the melted butter, heavy cream, and the last addition of Auld Acquaintance.
4. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Arrange the cooked apple slices on top and drizzle some (not all) of the pan caramel on top of these. You can save the rest of the pan caramel if you don’t feel like making the Auld Acquaintance Caramel Sauce (recipe follows) and use this to flavor your buttercream and drizzle on top of the cake. It will be a bit more tangy from the apples, but it is delicious.
5. Spread the remaining half of the batter on top of the apple wedges and bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is golden brown and springs back to the touch.
6. Once it is cool, run a paring knife around the edges and invert on to a platter. Slice the edges off to make a nice square cake.
You can make the Italian Buttercream recipe from this entry to top the cake. I made a half batch and flavored it with ¼ C of the caramel sauce below. This cake is also delicious without the buttercream, just drizzle caramel sauce on top and garnish with the apple chips.
Auld Acquaintance Caramel Sauce
(makes a good amount – about 1.5 C worth)
This recipe is pretty versatile, I use it a lot. I like to play around with replacing different amounts of the cream with different amounts of beer and beer reductions. Half cream and half Auld Acquaintance brings the right amount of spicy beer flavor for this application.
|1 C + 1 T (250 g)||granulated sugar|
|1 C (225 g)||water|
|6 T (90 g)||heavy cream|
|6 T (90 g)||Auld Acquaintance|
|4 oz (113 g)||butter|
1. Mix the sugar and the water together in a medium saucepan and turn the heat on high. Clean the sides of the pan by brushing with water to get rid of errant sugar crystals.
2. While this is cooking, measure out your cream and Auld Acquaintance and get your stick of butter ready. I cut the butter into 4 or 5 chunks.
3. Once the caramel is a nice deep amber beer color, quickly dump in the cream, Auld Acquaintance, and the butter all at once. Be careful, it will sputter, and caramel burns are the worst.
4. Leave the heat on high and let it do its thing for a few minutes. No need to stir. Once everything looks mixed in and the bubbles are uniform, remove from heat and pour into a heatproof vessel to cool. Once fairly cool, I transfer to a squeeze bottle. This can store at room temperature or in the fridge. Just warm to room temp or slowly warm in a microwave if it becomes difficult to squeeze.
(makes about 24 apple chips)
|1 or 2||pink lady apples|
|1 T||lemon juice|
|2 T||granulated sugar|
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F and get two baking sheets ready lined with a silcone mat (or parchment paper).
2. Slice your apples very thinly, I used a mandoline, but I have also done it using a nice sharp knife.
3. Sprinkle the baking sheets with lemon juice and granulated sugar, reserving about half.
4. Layer the apple slices on the baking sheets. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining lemon juice and sugar.
5. Bake about 40 to 50 minutes, turning occasionally. They will be rigid and just starting to brown when finished. Some will curl in places, some will stay flat. Use the prettiest ones for garnish and save the rest for snacking.
My next project will dive deep into Christmas cookie heaven. I’m making a few kinds of sablé cookies (buttery slice and bake cookies) with beer from Fremont Brewing and dried fruit. ‘Tis the season! Hoppy Holidays!