Instead of doing things the way they’ve always been done, here are recipes for Thanksgiving 2020 that throw tradition out the window — at least just this once — and show how the classics can be much easier, and more fun, when you focus on highlighting the qualities in each that really matter.
Cutting the apples so small allows them to cook through and keeps them from weighing down the batter. Store the glazed cake in an airtight container and you’ll see that each day after it’s made, it will become more and more moist. While it makes a great dessert cake, it’s also wonderful with a cup of coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Make the cake: Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan with butter, then line the bottom and two sides with a strip of parchment paper. Grease the paper, then dust the inside of the pan with flour, tapping out any excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another medium bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and cinnamon until evenly coated. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth, then whisk vigorously until the mixture is pale and thick, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the butter and whisk until it emulsifies and takes on a hollandaise-like sheen. Add the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until half combined, then add the apples and continue folding until the fruit is evenly coated in the batter.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake, rotating once halfway through, until golden brown on top, crisp at the edge and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
When the cake has 10 to 15 minutes of baking time left, make the glaze: Combine both sugars, the cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and all the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and once it begins to bubble across the entire surface of the sauce, set a timer for 2 minutes and cook, stirring often, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of boiling lava. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Cover with a lid and keep warm until ready to use.
Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, pour the warm glaze over the top of the cake, smoothing it with a spatula to ensure it covers the top completely and evenly. Let the cake cool completely, then either serve the cake from the pan or use the ends of the parchment paper strip to lift the cake out of the pan and transfer it to a serving platter.
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