Homemade spiced applesauce layer cake with creamy goat cheese and cream cheese frosting.
1 1/2lbapplesroughly 4, chopped
2 tsplemon juicefreshly squeezed
3 1/4Call purpose flour
2 tspbaking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4tsp ground all spice
1/4 tspground ginger
1/8 tspnutmegfreshly grated
1/2Cwhole milkroom temperature
1 tspvanilla extract
1 3/4Cgranulated sugar
10ozgoat cheeseroom temperature
3 1/2Cpowdered sugar
Add 1/3 cup sugar to a medium saucepan and spread in an even layer. Set the pan over medium heat, but do not stir the sugar. Eventually it will start to melt around the edges and turn golden. When that happens, gently stir until all of the sugar has melted and the mixture becomes amber/caramel in color. Add the apples and the lemon juice and stir to coat with the caramel (some of the caramel may seize, but don't worry, it'll melt as the applesauce cooks). Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook until the apples start to fall apart. Remove the cover and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mixture becomes a golden applesauce. Transfer to a heatproof bowl or measuring cup and allow to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray with flour, then place a round of parchment in the bottom of each and spray the round with nonstick cooking spray with flour.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl. Whisk the milk and vanilla together in a small measuring cup. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar, and the honey on medium speed (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice) until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. One at a time, add the eggs to the bowl, beating for one minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then with the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients in three additions, and the milk mixture in two, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating just until combined. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the cooled applesauce until combined (you may have extra applesauce - it makes an excellent snack!).
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove the pans to wire racks, and allow the cakes to cool for 20 minutes, then turn them out onto the racks (removing the parchment round from the bottom) and cool completely.
To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the goat cheese, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes (stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice). Add the confectioners' sugar about 1 cup at a time, beating until incorporated before adding the remainder. I like to refrigerate the frosting for about 30 minutes before using so it's slightly more firm. (The frosting can be made up to 3 days in advance - cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bring to room temperature and beat for a few minutes before using.)
To assemble the cake: Place one layer of the cake on a cake plate. Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the cake, then top with a second layer of cake. Again, spread a thin layer of frosting over the surface of the cake. Top with the final cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake with the remaining frosting. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour before serving. Right before serving, garnish with toasted, chopped pecans or caramelized apple slices.