There are several important components to a baking blog. A desire to want to do it is a really good start, followed by amazing recipes and stories to accompany them. Then there are the photographs. I can put my all into a recipe and tell you every detail about making it, how wonderful it is and looks and tastes, but if you can’t see it, you’re probably not going to make it. I know I pretty much never make a recipe that doesn’t have at least one photograph with it unless I’ve seen it demonstrated on TV or elsewhere. It’s too hard to guess how things are supposed to look, too stressful to wonder if your end product looks like the one the recipe creator ended up with, and baking should never be stressful.
Here’s the problem with photographs: they’re surprisingly hard to take. Clearly it’s not hard to snap some pics with your camera; the hard part is making them look good, making them appeal to the reader, making you, my wonderful readers, want to stop right then and there and make the recipe because it looks so good. Truthfully, I thought I was doing pretty well. But then my photographs kept getting rejected over and over again from various food websites designed to bring more traffic, particularly people interested in baking, to my blog. Photographs I thought looked pretty good: Rejected :( It has been disheartening, but I finally had one accepted. It was the Vanilla Fudge if you’re interested. That was a great recipe.
But another thing about photography is it’s easy to improve. Baked goods don’t photograph well when artificial lights are on, particularly those directly above said baked goods. Natural light is the best. Shadows are killers. Getting above the baked goods by standing or kneeling on a chair helps prevent this. Background is important. This is one I haven’t quite figured out yet. You have to get close enough to see the detail of the baked good but not too close to have it look messy, out of focus, or have nothing else in the photo other than the end product. Another tough one to figure out.
I am constantly critiquing my own photos and trying crazy hard to make them better. And I probably always will be. For now, I’ll just be happy when those crazy food sites accept some more. Of course, I hope you all enjoy my photos and they make you want to bake whatever recipe you’re looking at. And if you have any photography tips, feel free to leave a comment.
I certainly hope the photos of this Caramel Apple Walnut Cake make you want to whip it up because it’s delicious and really quite easy to make. A dense and moist cake filled with tons of apples and some walnuts is made even better by a rich caramel sauce. It’s not traditional caramel; instead it’s much easier to make and still very tasty. As you know one of my favorite and rare treats is warm cake straight from the oven. This can be served at room temperature, but it’s much better either hot out of the oven or re-warmed. Regardless of how you serve it, this is a gooey, rich cake that almost makes my chocolate cravings disappear.
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs (pasteurized if you like)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 apples, any variety, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
- In a large bowl, mix oil and sugars with a wooden spoon until combined. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding another. Mix in vanilla. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and salt just to combine. While stirring, gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the apples and walnuts.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
- Make the glaze either while the cake is baking or cooling. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, stir in the sugars and salt, continuing to cook for about 2 more minutes until the sugars have melted. Add the cream and boil the mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
- Using a toothpick poke holes all over the cake. Pour the glaze over the cake, making sure to spread it evenly over the cake so the entire thing is completely covered. Cut into 16 squares and serve warm. May be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil, and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw wrapped in parchment in a 350 degree F oven for about 10-15 minutes. It will taste like it was just baked.