Sunday, October 04, 2015

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting

In my mind, there are two iconic hippy restaurant cookbooks....

The first is the Bakery Lane Soup Bowl Cookbook, originally published in 1976.   The Bakery Lane Soup Bowl was a restaurant in Middlebury, Vermont, and while not everything in is the stereotype earthy food  (tofu, etc) it is so cozy and inviting in a 1970s kind of way you want to start cooking immediately upon reading it the first time.   I looked for the book used for years (long out of print) before I found it finally.   After much googling, I found that they owners closed it and moved to Arizona and opened a restaurant called Maude's (after their cat) but that one is closed now too.   But the cookbook is a keeper!

Secondly, like Middlebury, Vermont, (a college town) there is Ithaca, New York and the iconic Moosewood Restaurant.   The Moosewood still exists without one of the original members of the collective that started it, Mollie Katzen, but she wrote their first cookbook and I think it's their best.   I loved Mollie's hand lettered recipes and hand drawn pictures.   The cookbook is definitely more hippie style....i.e. vegetarian, tofu, etc.   But just like Bakery Lane, it makes you want to cook something right just from reading it.   The recipe for vegetarian chili in this book is the best I've tasted anywhere.  

Since acquiring the Bakery Lane cookbook, I've been wanting to make the Fresh Apple Cake recipe, but never got around to it until today. At the beginning of the dessert chapter, the authors claim their desserts are worth the calories, and I think it's true.    Facebook, via the King Arthur Flour post, reminded me of it this week, so I decided to make it for a brunch I was hosting with my friends Patty and Ellen.   Perfect for a fall day....

Fresh Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups peeled, cored, chopped apple, about 1 1/3 pounds whole apples
1 cup diced toasted walnuts or pecans

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan. To make the cake: Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and nuts in a large bowl. Beat until well combined; the mixture will be very stiff, and may even be crumbly. Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the apples release some of their juice and the stiff mixture becomes a thick batter, somewhere between cookie dough and brownie batter in consistency.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with your wet fingers. Bake the cake for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few wet crumbs clinging to it.   Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool completely; don't remove the cake from the pan.

To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. Add the milk, bring to a boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners' sugar. Spread on the cake while frosting is still warm.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

World's Easiest Peach Pie

I adapted this recipe is originally from the cookbook of the Family Parish Circle and Friends of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Hubbardston, Michigan. I bought it in the early 1990s at a farm stand near my future in laws house in Carson City, Michigan. I first made this peach pie on that September day at my in laws while we were visiting. It is the best peach pie I have ever had. It's a great "first pie" for a kid or an adult that's never made one before, because it has a press in crust. No rolling required.

Peach Pie

1 1/2 c flour
2 t sugar
1 t salt
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 T milk

Combine ingredients to form a soft pastry dough. It will be really soft, not like a rolled out crust. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan with your fingers


1/2 c powdered sugar
1/3 c flour
4 cup sliced peeled fresh peaches
1/2 t. mace

Combine and spoon into unbaked crust.

3/4 c flour
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/3 c soft butter

Preheat oven to 375 F,  Combine for form a crumb mixture, spoon over peaches. Also, adding ground mace or pumpkin pie spice to the cinnamon is tasty, too.  I love adding mace to peach desserts - I learned this trick from an excellent soul food cook named Irene who was a member of the Society of Women Engineers with me in the late 80s.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Salsa 2015

This year, I canned my favorite (and most difficult) item to put up: salsa.   It's the one thing I make that I can't seem to have enough of in the house.  This year, we ran out about April, so I made 33 pints.   I bought a box of Roma tomatoes from Ruhlig's produce and commenced to prepare my favorite salsa recipe Salsa #5.  I had to scale up the recipe based on the amount of tomatoes I had in my box, which was 26.3 lb, or about 3.78X the original recipe.   It's very important to keep proportions accurate when making salsa, or you could end up with botulism.  Here is my math:

It also was the maiden voyage on my new outdoor canning kitchen.  I did break it in at a canning class that I taught last weekend.  It was great to be able to can outside on such a hot day, plus, I could just hose off the garage floor when I was done.   I still did all my chopping in my own kitchen, but I peeled the tomatoes on my camp stove instead of in the house and it was way better.   Plus, the propane high burner can get my canner boiling in no time.  

I ultimately used 2 boiling water baths at a time, which made the whole project, start to finish, get completed in a little over 4 5 hours.   My friend Ellen stopped by to help for a couple hours.

 Ready for winter now!!!