Autumn Icebox Cake
Fills one 6½” x 8½” Pyrex ovenware dish or one 8” square ceramic dish
For the graham crackers-
(from Meg Ray)
makes 15 three inch cookies
1½ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar combined with ½ teaspoon cinnamon, for sprinkling
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and wheat flour, salt, and cinnamon. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Beat until fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, pat it into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with whole wheat flour, roll the dough out to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Cut out squares of dough using a 3” square cookie cutter. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, about ½” apart. Use the tip of a skewer to add indentations to the cookies. Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until golden, rotating the pans halfway through, for a total of 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely before assembling the icebox cake.
For the apple sauce-
(I like to add the peels of red-hued apples to give the sauce a rosy color)
3 pounds of apples (use a mix of Gala, Macintosh, Winesap) rinsed, peeled, cored
and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar OR 1 tablespoon honey
1 or 2 long strips of lemon peel (avoid the white pith)
juice of 1 small lemon (1-2 tablespoons depending on sweetness of apples)
¼ cup good quality apple cider
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, place the apples, brown sugar, (or honey) lemon peels, juice and apple cider. Simmer over low heat until the apples soften, about 15-20 minutes. Place the apple mixture in a ricer/food mill and process until you have a smooth sauce. (Alternatively, you can place the apple mixture in a large bowl, pluck out the peels and use a potato masher.) Cover the apple sauce and refrigerate completely before assembling the icebox cake.
For the whipped cream-
1 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the cream and sugar with a handheld electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla, whisking once or twice to combine. Be careful not to over beat the cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
To Assemble the Cake-
(Fills one 6½” x 8½” Pyrex ovenware dish or one 8” square ceramic dish)
Place a thin layer of whipped cream on the bottom of the dish to anchor the graham crackers. Cut three of the graham crackers in half using a serrated knife. Add a single layer of graham crackers and halves on top of the whipped cream. Top the graham crackers with a layer of applesauce (about ¾ of a cup.) Top the applesauce with whipped cream, the whipped cream with graham crackers, and another layer of applesauce. The top layer of the cake should be whipped cream. (You should have a total of three layers. (There will be extra graham crackers and applesauce which helps to sustain you while you wait for the cake to chill.)
Garnish the top of the cake with graham cracker crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, (preferably overnight) before serving. Use a sharp knife to cut neat squares. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
(Note: You can layer whipped cream, graham crackers, and applesauce in any number of glass or ceramic dishes. The trick is having the patience to allow the layers to meld together; it’s best to prepare this ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge overnight before serving.)