on soup, cake and comfort

Perhaps the best thing about making a large pot of soup, is the love that it keeps on giving over the next couple of days. Last night, in honour of my broccoli-loving, vegetarian Number Three, it was (you guessed it) broccoli soup for the win. Now, if you’re not a fan of those little broccoli trees, you would have been thinking Hmmmwhat’s next? sitting at our table. (Though you would have been swatted for saying it aloud.) But, if you had eaten your broccoli, there would have been Apple Spice Cake with cream cheese filling and caramel sauce for dessert! Nah, just kidding. We don’t do food wars in this house. And mostly we don’t eat cake before dinner. Mostly …



I made this cake at Thanksgiving, but it’s also a damn fine everyday cake. (Though really, what cake isn’t?)







Broccoli Soup:

1 medium onion chopped, 1 leek washed and chopped, 3 cloves garlic minced, sautéed in oil (and a pat of butter if you’re not feeding vegans). Add 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, 1 Tbsp fresh, tarragon and continue to sauté until onions are translucent and leeks softened. Add 2 large heads washed, chopped broccoli florets. Remove outer layer of stems with peeler, chop and add. Add enough vegetable stock to just cover broccoli—approximately 2 liters. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered until broccoli is just tender. Purée with immersion blender, then add salt and pepper to taste. I like to stir in 3/4 cup grated, old cheddar or 1/2 cup shaved asiago for those who eat dairy. Or add a dollop of yogurt at serving.

Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Filling & Caramel Sauce:

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly flour a standard size bundt pan.

Prepare Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 8 oz plain cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Method: In the bowl of a mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and egg and continue mixing. Add flour and mix until just combined. Set mixture aside.

Apple Spice Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3 large apples (use your favourite crisp apple) peeled, cored and diced into 1/2″ pieces

Note: You can peel and dice the apples and add them to the batter just as they are. But I prefer to season and sautée them a bit first. This adds flavour and colour. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in frying pan, add diced apples and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 Tbsp brown sugar. Gently toss apples to coat and cook 4-5 minutes, just until they begin to soften. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom until well combined. In the bowl of a mixer beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the apples and distribute throughout the batter.

Spoon half the cake batter into the bundt pan. Add the cream cheese filling by spooning it on top and gently spreading it over batter. Use a knife to gently swirl it into the batter 4-5 times. Add the remainder of the cake batter on top of the cream cheese filling, making sure to cover the filling.

Bake for approximately 60-70 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cake cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then invert it. Allow cake to cool completely. Make caramel sauce just before serving:

Caramel Sauce: (à la Martha Stewart)

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

Method: In a sauce pan, whisk together all ingredients over medium heat. Continue whisking about 7 minutes until mixture has thickened. Let cool 5-10 minutes before pouring on cake. Enjoy!