I do. I try not to say it too loudly, I don’t want the easiness and beauty of Summer to be offended, or Winter and her sometimes-snows. Those snow days are always such fun. Spring, meh, I won’t stress about offending a Portland Spring with his endless gray skies and perpetual drizzle. But it’s true that Fall is my favorite with the crystalline blue skies, brilliant orange, yellow, and red leaves, blustery days, vigorous storms, and crisp air. It’s a perfect transition, balanced light and dark, between Summer and Winter.
In Denmark, they battle the onset of winter’s dark days by rebranding seasonally affected depression as “hygge” (hyoo gah)–very clever they are. Hygge is everything good wrapped up into a feeling. I’ve heard people define hygge as “coziness” and I think that’s a great way to understand it. Having friends gathered round a table, engaged in conversation is hygge. Being wrapped in a blanket on a soft chair or couch with a book and some tea, watching the rain outside, is hygge. Candlelight is especially hygge. So when the days shorten and darkness seeps into the corners of our house, I reframe it as hygge season and it becomes my very most favorite.
Today, our family is celebrating fall with some hygge. Specifically, that means chili, cornbread, and of course, cake. We are opening our doors to a few friends who have been invited to “come when you can, leave when you must”, and we will luxuriate in the change of seasons and friendship on this stunning, blustery day that leaves our lights flickering and threatening to extinguish. I am armed with candles and I am done with the oven, so bring it!
For today’s cake, I wanted to bring all the best flavors of Fall together in one delicious, humble cake that will feel like hygge in a bite. Ample cinnamon, nutmeg, and sour cream make the base of a tender cake studded with two kinds of apples–Fall’s most delicious reward.
Salted caramel is drizzled over each layer. It escapes down the sides and pools onto the cake plate, creating a bit of mess for which it will be gladly forgiven.
And since I can think of nothing finer than browned butter frosting, that’s exactly what I made. If you haven’t had browned butter frosting, oh, my heart breaks for you a little bit. Not knowing the rich, nutty, warm umami depth that meets the slightly salty sweet is akin to not ever knowing true love. Really.
So I’ve stacked all these lovely elements into this humble cake that is rustic and simple. It is not ostentatious or pretentious, and it doesn’t scream at you that this is the best cake west of the Mississippi, the Atlantic, Jupiter, but really, it kind of is.
Now this is how one should usher in the hygge season.