Chai Spiced Apple Cake with Mascarpone Frosting

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As soon as September arrives, I'm eager to segue into autumn baking - is there anything better in life than the smell of apples and warm spices wafting from the oven?

This is one of my favourite fall cakes - it's moist, fragrant and studded with apples. You've seen it before, here. It's a casual dessert, one that gets eagerly gobbled up for breakfast with coffee the next day. But this time I was entertaining and wanted to make it special.

Thick swirls of Canadian mascarpone frosting crowning the cake and dripping seductively down its sides did the trick nicely don't you think?

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When Dairy Farmers of Canada asked me to share a recipe using Canadian cheese, it sent me into a flurry of excited brainstorming - because not only am I a huge cheese fan, you know I'm a huge fan of buying local.

Canadian dairy made from 100% Canadian Milk is known for its high quality, purity, and great taste. I learned this first-hand in visiting local dairy farms during my undergrad degree (Food Science and Nutrition programs take residence in the faculty of agriculture at UBC, so I took years of Ag. Science courses).

Naturally, quality in production is related to quality in taste - so yay! (and YUM!) Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk!

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Canadian mascarpone in particular is one of my favourite pleasures - it's incredibly creamy, with a fresh flavour, lovely sweetness and subtle tang.

It magically transforms any dish into a more luxurious version of itself.

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For this frosting, mascarpone is beaten with butter until light and fluffy, then confectioners' sugar, pure vanilla and nutmeg are beaten in.

I add a splash of buttermilk to play up the fresh cheese's tang.

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Nutmeg might not be the first spice you'd think to add to frosting, but it's heady aroma complements the richness and sweetness beautifully, and it lends a gripping intrigue that will have you licking the bowl.

As a final flourish, I dusted cinnamon over the top using a small fine-mesh sieve.

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Give any leftover mascarpone a second life by stirring it with some mustard and herbs to create an incredible sauce for chicken, or - one of my favourite indulgences - slather it over a warm Buttermilk Scone with Strawberries and Milk Chocolate Chunks.

Canadians, you know the symbol to look for, eh? ;)

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  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 10Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, finely diced apples

MASCARPONE FROSTING

  • 1 ½ cups softened Canadian mascarpone
  • ⅓ cup softened butter
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease and flour a nonstick bundt pan.

  2. Beat butter and sugar in a standing mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating about 30 seconds after each. Beat in vanilla.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour with baking soda, salt, and spices. Add one third of flour mixture to butter mixture and beat on low speed till just combined. Add half of the buttermilk and beat again. Repeat with another third of he flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk, and finish by beating in the last of the flour.

  4. Gently fold in the apples and scrape batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake about 50 minutes, until cake feels springy when touched and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

  5. Let cake cool for 10 mins in hot pan - this makes the bottom moist and it helps it to release easily from the pan. Wearing oven mitts, flip the cake onto a cooling rack. Knock on the bottom of the pan a few times until you feel the cake release. Finish cooling completely on the rack before frosting.

To make frosting:

  1. Beat together mascarpone and butter until light and fluffy, then beat in remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to frost cooled cake. Refrigerate leftover frosted cake, but let it come to room temperature before serving.