|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....
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.