Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apple Cake



Fall is here. Despite my daily hopes for a late resurgence of summer, the dazzling coppers and golds on tree tops and the hypnotic morning fogs have been hard to ignore. But no matter. As much as I live for the summer, I absolutely love fall. Once you get past the return of the rains, there are so many magical things about this season – the smell of a neighbor’s wood burning stove, snuggling under a fluffy down comforter (after having hit the snooze button for the third time), steaming hot bowls of soup for lunch and for dinner (more on this later), and long weekend drives for some leaf-peeping. On these excursions, one invariably encounters several enticing “Apples, here” signs around every bend, and I personally find these signs very hard to bypass. So naturally, come fall, I find myself with a large surplus of apples, and no horse to feed them to. While I suppose I could feed them to my neighbor’s horse, I’ve instead been working on using them in some human-friendly recipes. On that note, I present to you my recipe for an apple spice cake, adapted from so many versions that are abundant on the web.
This version is considerably less sweet than most recipes I’ve come across, and I also love the combination of the almond flavor with the 'cinnamonized' apples. (*In fact, I may try to substitute some of the flour with almond meal, the next time I bake this.) The cake comes together quite easily and is just as delicious as a breakfast treat as an afternoon sugar fix. If you can bear to keep your hands off it for that long, the cake also keeps well, covered at room temperature, for up to three days.

Apple Cake

For the apple ‘filling’

8 apples, I prefer Gala, peeled, cored, and chopped into large-ish chunks
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2T sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Toss these together, and set aside while preparing the cake batter.

For the cake batter

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon almond extract

4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans and golden raisin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x11 glass pan.

Stir dry ingredients together. Whisk together wet ingredients, except for eggs, and add dry ingredients to this mixture.

Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition.

Spread 2/3 of batter evenly on bottom of pan. Evenly spread apples and nut/raisin mix, and top off with remaining batter.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Popovers

Saturday mornings are a special time in my house. An alarmless start to the day is followed by a large steaming mug of coffee and serious contemplation about something ‘special’ to whip up for breakfast. This Saturday, I finally decided to make something that has enchanted me for most of my adult years, despite my never having eaten or seen one– popovers.


Armed with a brand new popover pan from World Market and 4 simple ingredients, I started whipping these up – 40 minutes later, I popped them out of my oven for a truly special Saturday morning breakfast! I have no idea why these are not more ubiquitous on breakfast menus or in bakeries– they are so easy to make and lend themselves to endless topping options. We ate ours with a dollop of butter (well, margarine, but butter sounds better) and a smear of homemade jam.



Popovers
Ingredients


• 2 eggs
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup milk (I used skim)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a popover pan or six custard cups.
2. Beat eggs slightly with a wire whisk. Gently beat in flour, milk, and salt until just smooth – do not overbeat.
3. Fill popover cups ½ full.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes more. Do not open oven while cooking.



Slide from cups and serve piping hot.