Another TwD Rewind: Caramelized Apple Shortbread Cake

I read this week’s recipe (spiced squash, fennel & pear soup) and almost started gagging. Fennel and I don’t get along because of its signature licorice smell and flavor. (Ew.) And I thought it was a horrid way to use the sweet and beloved pears I had on-hand, so I didn’t make the recipe! Instead, I used the pears to make a cake for National Bundt Cake Day, which I’ll post on Tuesday. I still wanted to make a Dorie recipe for today, so I made a caramelized apple shortbread cake, which is a twist on the “Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake” from her Baking cookbook.

I must say, I enjoyed making this recipe even though I don’t have the best track record with shortbread. Plus, I got to use my springform pan again which I haven’t used for awhile. I think this cake was a much better alternative than making the assigned soup (which I probably would’ve thrown out.) Here’s hoping I have enough fortitude to try next week’s braised cardamom-curry lamb assignment!

To read bloggers who followed the rules and made Dorie’s spiced squash, fennel & pear soup, check out French Fridays with Dorie where we make recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

63 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melanie @ Melanie Cooks
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 07:54:20

    I also absolutely hate fennel and anything licorice, so I agree that a cake is a much better choice πŸ™‚ The cake looks great!

  2. Yuri
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:03:50

    This shortbread cake looks amazing πŸ™‚ I must admit I haven’t touched my copy of Dorie’s book in ages…

  3. Kathy
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:17:16

    I think my husband was in your camp. He did not enjoy this soup…and he knew this by only eating a spoonful. Love your cake, it was a great choice! There have been a few picks I felt the same way about.

  4. kitchenbelleicious
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:32:19

    Shortbread cookies are one of my favorite of all times- the buttery texture is just heavenly but having it in a cake makes it even better. I love the addition of the apples! Perfection!

  5. Three-Cookies
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:38:35

    This looks absolutely delicious, I would choose this over the soup without any second thoughts

  6. Eileen
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:53:35

    I never even noticed that cake in Baking. Looks wonderful!

  7. spicegirlfla
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:55:38

    You simply can’t go wrong with shortbread! And I suppose you will find more people enjoying shortbread over fennel! I do like fennel but I’ve had it since I was very young, possibly an aquired taste. This is a gorgeous cake and I like the layering.

  8. cooking varieties
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 08:58:38

    hi yummy chunklet, i really dont know how to cook caramelized apple shortbread-cake. i can can conveniently learn from you now. thanks for sharing, the photos ,they look very appetizing tho..

    Just to let you know that I am featured (guest) blogger at Jasna’s real authentic foodie blog. Thanks, do visit this at

  9. Andi Winslow
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 09:34:47

    No soup for me thank you. But this cake yes please……………andi

  10. Miriam Barton
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 09:56:36

    This sounds absolutely perfect for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  11. SoupAddict
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 10:05:32

    This turned out beautifully – looks so delicious! (P.S.: I don’t think you were alone in skipping this recipe – I’m not seeing many posts from the FFwD regulars. πŸ˜‰ )

  12. sara
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 11:14:55

    Haha, I love fennel but I really have an aversion to fruit in soups so I probably would have passed on that one too! πŸ™‚ This cake looks like an awesome ‘alternative’ – so delicious! πŸ™‚

  13. Cher
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 11:50:23

    I’m not a huge licorice fan – but sauteing the fennel did definitely take it down a notch or two.
    Glad you enjoyed your cake. Apples in dessert can rarely go wrong…

  14. Tricia S.
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 11:54:19

    You had me howling at your “keeping it real” comment about gagging at the thought of the ingredients for the soup πŸ™‚ I grew up being allowed to “taste” a little swig of sweet anisette licquor on my grandfather’s knee- so fennel has a special place in my heart. That said, I was all psyched and ended up not caring for this soup. Nana and I are definitely going to be playing around with some soups over the coming months and the texture on this one was out of the park. Loved it. Anyway, your cake is unbelievable. How sweet (pun intended) to stick with Dorie even if not doing the soup. And don’t ask me how I have not gotten around to researching her other books – but I honestly did not know about the baking one. I just opened up another tab on Amazon to purchase it – thx for the heads up !!!

  15. marcella
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 12:07:06

    I have been skipping so many of the recipes lately because all that squash and such is awful to me. I need to follow your lead and just choose a better for me recipe. Love your shortbread variation – the cranberry version is awesome. Now I’ll have to try it caramel apple style too.

  16. Caroline
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 12:08:51

    That sugary top looks amazing! You can’t go wrong with shortbread–one of my favorites. Even better when apples are involved. I always love an opportunity to use my springform pan. πŸ™‚

  17. forgottenbeast
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 12:31:40

    I’ve never made shortbread, but yours makes it look extra good! I do love fennel, but I can see how if you don’t like the taste it would make the dish inedible, it’s pretty strong stuff.

  18. Dessert By Candy
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 13:43:51

    that certainly looks like an interesting recipe to try. The texture looks really tender!

  19. Sue/the view from great island
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 14:03:17

    I do love fennel, but I also love shortbread, so this post works just fine for me! The cake looks really intriguing… I think I’d love it with a cup of coffee.

  20. Geni - Sweet and Crumby
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 14:13:50

    I’ve never heard of a shortbread cake…and this looks so good! What a nice way to do a Dorie recipe instead of one that you wouldn’t like. Honestly, that combo doesn’t sound too great to me either and I love Dorie as well. I mean who doesn’t?

  21. Peggy
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 14:44:31

    I like fennel, but that combination does not sound good I agree. Your cake looks delicious.

  22. Betty
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 15:07:56

    Wise decision…the cake looks really good!

  23. Inger Wilkerson
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 15:39:58

    I am so with you on the fennel! We get it a couple times a year in the CSA boxes and I was delighted to find the Guinea Pigs love it.

  24. Ronda
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 16:18:42

    Love that wonderful looking cake! That would almost take me off my low-carb diet!

  25. Alice
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 17:22:00

    you know whats funny? at first I wasn’t really excited about the Nov recipes, and I’m kind of burnt out on curry and cardamom everything, but I made the soup this week anyways which I didn’t wind up liking and figured what the heck. But your cake looks delicious! Is it a moist one or a bit drier?

  26. TrafficDiva
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 17:48:40

    Hey Alice…I had the pleasure of trying this cake and when I heard “shortbread”, I too thought it might be a bit on the drier side…but no! This is cake is tender and has a light “cakey” feel to it. The sugar-crusted top really sets it off. Warmed up with a big glass of milk, it’s gonna make a perfect treat for the first real cold weekend here in Chicago!!

    Yet another home run, Yummy!! And thanks again for the leftover Buttermilk sauce!! =)

  27. Betsy
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 19:39:40

    Try the soup without fennel sometime, it had great flavors…
    However, I’m glad you tried something different. The shortbread cake sounds great. I’m going to mark the page in my copy of Dorie’s Baking and make this one while apples are still plentiful. Nice choice!

  28. Grumpy Grateful Mom
    Nov 11, 2011 @ 22:28:54

    Looks so good! Of course, I would have to slather it with whipped cream. And I am against licorice too. One of my least favorite things.

  29. peachkins
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 01:05:49

    I’m a sucker for anything with caramelized apples! This rocks!

  30. Liz
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 07:11:24

    Yeah, I think you made the right choice…this cake looks divine. I’m having the same trepidation about next week’s recipe. I may have to make lamb chops or something else as the family has proclaimed their dislike of curries…and I don’t want to have to make a second dinner! Have a great weekend~

  31. Mary
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 07:57:10

    I’d definitely take the cake over the soup too. I love raw fennel, but cooked, not so much. This looks gorgeous and I love the idea of caramel apples with the buttery cake.

  32. Elaine
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 09:21:13

    I think you would like the soup because you can taste the pears and squash. I used a small fennel bulb, so the fennel did not overwhelm at all. The blend of flavors was delicious. The shortbread cake looks really good especially with carmelized apples.

  33. Cara
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 09:26:48

    This looks so good, I love shortbread so I may have to make this tomorrow! You have beautiful plates by the way!

  34. sally
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 15:48:29

    Sorry to hear about the soup! This shortbread cake looks like a great alternative though.

  35. caloricandcrazy
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 15:50:45

    ooooooooh man! that looks so good πŸ™‚

  36. Cakelaw
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 16:46:47

    Your cake looks wonderful – there’s nothing like shortbread with sweet jam filling.

  37. Annabelle
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 17:07:53

    Oh my, this looks so moist, and nice, and beautiful, and really really tasty. I hate the fact that I’m on a diet and browsing your amazing blog πŸ˜€

  38. Reem | Simply Reem
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 22:46:50

    This cake looks so delicious, perfectly done moist and rich…

  39. JasmyneTea
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 03:19:08

    I looooooooooooooove fennel, but I think your shortcake looks delicious!

  40. cindyrina
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 06:15:33

    ooooo gosh!!! look lovely and delicious!!!!

  41. Betty Manousos
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 06:40:31

    i love anything apple!
    that looks delicious! great recipe, too.
    i just wanted to take a bite of it.
    it was that enticing!

    happy weekend!

  42. Simply Life
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 07:27:00

    looks like a great recipe you chose to use!

  43. Holly
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 08:38:31

    I have had shortbread cookies, but never cake! This cake sounds wonderful!

  44. Ameena
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 10:18:28

    I love shortbread cookies but i haven’t had it in cake form before either. I can’t think of anything that sounds more delicious though…

  45. foodfashionandflow
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 13:27:23

    This looks so yummy!

  46. Trix
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 14:08:59

    I do not have a problem with fennel (if it’s cooked right) but I’m not a fan of sweet-ish soups, so I skipped this week. Nice substitution!

  47. jora
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 15:28:05

    i didn’t mind the fennel in the soup too much (i actually thought it was pretty mild), but i’m totally with you on hating the taste of licorice…that cake looks amazing. i absolutely love shortbread, but i’ve never seen it made into a cake before. i’m going to have to try that recipe, thanks for the inspiration!

  48. eatinglikeahorse
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 16:50:52

    I’m not a fan of fennel either – or soup to be honest! I am definitely a fan of caramel, apple and shortbread; you made the right choice in my opinion πŸ™‚

  49. Beth
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 18:31:38

    I do like fennel, but I’d never argue with anyone who chose apple cake instead!

  50. Kelly
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 19:32:04

    Caramelized. Shortbread. Cake. That’s a lot of yumminess in one bite!

  51. rebecca
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 20:51:11

    fun cake and I don’t think I would like those ingredients either

  52. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 22:28:50

    While fennel and I are fast friends, I’ll pause to allow you to appreciate my alliteration, I will say this looks perfect!

  53. Quay Po Cooks
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 06:25:30

    oooo caramelized apple sounds super delicious!

  54. Mother's Secret Home Recipes
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 08:01:49

    perfect….luks superb

  55. Louise
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 08:07:36

    GREAT choice, Yummy! I too have been neglecting my Spring Form pan and your Caramelized Apple Shortbread sounds like the perfect excuse to drag it on out.

    I’ve found the licorice taste of fennel settles down a bit when slowly roasted with sweet Vidalia onions. However, not enough to be combined with pears!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing…

    P.S. I’m looking forward to your Bundt Cake Day post:)

  56. Mary
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 12:40:11

    OHHhhh LOVE shortbread and made into a cake with caramelized apple sounds just about perfect – yum
    Mary x

  57. Juliana
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 19:54:23

    Wow, this shortbread cakes with caramelized apples look delicious…love the buttery flavor of this cake…beautiful pictures as well.
    Hope you are having a great week πŸ™‚

  58. sophia
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 20:32:15

    Aw, I love fennel! I’m especially loving the crackly crust of that cake…yum!

  59. erica @
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 20:54:51

    Oh my word! This looks beyond amazing! I must make it ASAP! xo

  60. JamieAnne
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 21:32:20

    This looks great! Moist and lovely!

  61. sanyaliving
    Nov 15, 2011 @ 15:33:08

    I have the baking book, I’ll have to give this a try, looks great.

  62. Confessions of a Culinary Diva
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 11:01:57

    Yum! I’d take this over soup any day! I’ll have to look into the baking book πŸ™‚

  63. Terra
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 21:18:21

    I used to hate fennel, but now love it. But I love the recipe you made better! The top of the cake looks so crisp, and sugary:-) The cake looks fantastic! Hugs, Terra

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