Makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall. Serves 6 to 8
You'll need a 6 inch cake ring and some acetate to line it with.
barely brown butter cake
Heat the oven to 175°C.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.
Stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla while the paddle swirls on low speed, increase the speed to medium-high and paddle 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your originally fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous.
On very low speed, add the plain flour, baking powder, and salt, mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. Mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any little lumps of cake flour are incorporated.
Line a 13 x 9 inch baking sheet with parchment, using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.
apple cider soak
Whisk together cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Heat the oven to 150°C.
Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Whisk together the cornflour and salt in a medium bowl, whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry, paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Line the bottom and sides of a 6 x 6-inch baking pan with cling flim. Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
Gently shake the pan, the cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead centre. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more.
Cool the cheesecake completely. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Heat the oven to 175°C.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until well mixed.
Add the butter and water and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
Spread the clusters on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should be golden brown and still slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
apple pie filling
Peel the apples, then halve and quarter them, put each apple quarter on its side and cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the seeds and core. Cut each apple quarter lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into fourths, leaving you with 12 small pieces from every apple quarter.
Combine the apples in a medium pot with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, using a spoon to gently stir the mixture as it heats up and the apples begin to release liquid.
Reduce the heat and simmer the apples gently for 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer to a container and put in the fridge to cool down. Once completely cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week; do not freeze.
pie crumb frosting
Combine the pie crumb, milk, and salt in a blender, turn the speed to medium-high, and puree until smooth and homogenous. It will take 1 to 3 minutes, if the mixture does not catch on your blender blade, turn off the blender, take a small teaspoon, and scrape down the sides of the canister, remembering to scrape under the blade, then try again.
Combine the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
On low speed, paddle in the contents of the blender, after 1 minute, increase the speed up to medium-high and mix for another 2 minutes.
Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
How to assemble the cake
Put a piece of baking parchment on the worktop. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
Layer 1, the bottom
Clean the cake ring and place it in the centre of a baking tray lined with clean parchment. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
Put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
Dunk a pastry brush in the apple cider soak and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half cider.
Use the back of a spoon to spread half of the liquid cheesecake in an even layer over the cake.
Sprinkle one-third of the pie crumbs evenly over the liquid cheesecake. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
Use the back of a spoon to spread one-half of the apple pie filling as evenly as possible over the crumbs.
Layer 2, the middle
Tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for Layer 1.
Layer 3, the top
Add the remaining cake round into the apple pie filling, cover the top of the cake with all of the pie crumb frosting, give it volume and swirls, garnish the frosting with the remaining pie crumbs.
Transfer to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).
Slice the cake into wedges and serve.