Grandma Esther’s Apple Cake
“This cake is AMAZING,” said our friend Ruthie when she sent us this recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 / Bake for 1 hour
3 lbs. of apples (try tart, crunchy apples like Empires, Jonagolds, and Romes)
pinch of salt
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of oil
2 tsp baking powder
3 ½ cups of flour
o Peel, core and dice the apples into small cubes
o Mix the diced apples with enough cinnamon sugar to coat (You can squeeze the juice of one lemon onto the apples to keep them from browning and to add a bit more tang)
o Set aside the apples
o Cream the eggs and sugar
o Add the dry ingredients alternating with the oil
o Grease and flour a 9 x 13 cake pan
o Pour in half of the batter (it’s really thick and doesn’t move very easily)
o Put the apples on top of the batter; layer them evenly across the pan
o Put the rest of the batter on top of the apples
o Put a layer of cinnamon sugar over the top of the entire cake
Anne’s “Apple Cake”
This is a favorite of Molly’s family, originally made by Anne Walsh of Ottawa, Illinois. Use a firm apple that holds its shape well when baked.
2 sticks butter (real butter!)
4 T sugar
2 c. flour (less if bread flour)
5 T cream (just over 1/4 cup)
Pinch of baking powder
Mix all together by hand and press thinly in cookie sheet. Prepare apples as for pie (peeled and sliced with sugar) and arrange in rows on the crust. Mix together:
1 c. sugar
1 T flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
Sprinkle over apples (add a little lemon juice when using sweeter apples like Rome or Golden Delicious). Bake 15 minutes at 375F, then lower heat to 300F until done – about 40 minutes more.
The following recipes are from “Cider, Hard and Sweet” by Ben Watson.
Lost Nation Cider Pie
Lost Nation is a rural enclave in the North Country of New Hampshire, way up near the Canadian border. It’s where my friends Michel and Nancy Philips have their farm and tend an apple orchard and cider mill down the road. Every year they host a wassail party around Twelfth Night, and kids and grownups alike sing and dance around the biggest apple tree, then shoot off fireworks and make a hellacious racket in the cold, January night. Afterwards, it’s back to the warmth of the farmhouse for some hard cider and a slice of this amazing pie, which is made with cider jelly. (Note: This recipe is adapted from The Apple Grower, A Guide for the Organic Orchardist by Michael Phillips, Chelsea Green Publishing, 1998).
¾ cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 cup cider jelly (or cider glaze, a not-quite-jellied stage with a consistency somewhere between boiled cider and cider jelly)
½ cup boiling water
1 egg, lightly beaten1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 cups sliced apples
Pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the cider jelly and water and mix well. Add the eggs and melted butter. Arrange the apple slices on top of the bottom crust in the pie plate and pour the filling over them. Place the top crust on the pie plate and pour the filling over them. Place the top crust on the pie, crimping the edges around the rim and slashing cuts in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top crust is golden. Serve topped with a slice of sharp Cheddar cheese or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
Yield: 6 servings
Tarte aux Pommes (Apple Tart)
This is another traditional recipe from Normandy. As with pies, the best apples to use are the tart, high-acid cooking varieties. Early varieties I like for pies and tarts include Gravenstein and Mantet; excellent later apples include Espous Spitzenburg (Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple) and Calville Blanc d’Hiver, an old French variety that reputedly has the highest level of vitamin C of any apple.
Earth First Farms note on higher-acid varieties for tartes and pies: We recommend Empires, Romes, and Ida Reds.
One 9-inch pie shell, pricked with the tines of a fork and baked in a 450 degree oven for 12 minutes, until golden brown (see recipe for Pate Brisee, or use your own crust recipe).
6 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons sugar
½ cup Calvados (apple brandy)
Scant pinch of salt
Combine the sliced apples in a saucepan with the butter, 3 ½ tablespoons of sugar ¼ cup of the Calvados, and the cinnamon and salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring gently, until the apples are tender but still retain their shape. Arrange the apples in the baked pie shell. In another saucepan, combine the remaining 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar, and the rest of the Calvados. Warm the liquor, stirring until the sugar is dissolved; then ignite and pour over the apple slices.Serve the tart warm, passing a bowl of whipped cream or crème fraiche (see for recipe above) separately.
Yield: 6 servings
Here’s a quick-and-easy recipe for a one-crust tart or quiche, made in the food processor. For quiche, the shell is not baked before filling.
1 1/3 cups unbleached white flour
¼ cup cold butter
1 teaspoon salf (or less, if you’re using slated butter)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
¼ cup ice water (slightly more if needed)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the flour, butter, sale, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until the mixture has the consistency of course meal. Add the ice water a little at a time, until the dough gathers together in a ball on top of the blade. (The entire process takes only a few seconds.)
Now you’re ready to roll out the crust and bake the pie shell. Line a pie plate with the dough and prick it with the tines of a fork all over its surface. You can also place another pie plate of the same size on top of the dough, to ensure that it doesn’t rise or bubble up while baking. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the shell is golden brown.
Yield: a single crust for one 9-inch pie or tart
Boiled cider gives an extra tang and concentrated apple flavor to this crisp. If you can’t find boiled cider for sale in your area, it’s easy to make your own from fresh sweet cider or substitute real maple syrup.
8 medium-large baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (desired apples ones that hold their shape while baking)
2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup boiled cider1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground mace (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 ½ cups oatmeal
1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup boiled cider
12 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the filling, thoroughly mix together the apples, flour, granulated sugar, boiled cider, and spice in a large bowl. Transfer to an ungreased 9x 13-inch baking dish. Now combine the topping ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread evenly over the apple mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or pass a container of light cream to pour over the crisp.
Yield: 12 servings
Pears Poached in Cider
Apples and pears, which are close botanical cousins, match up well in the kitchen, too, as this simple elegant dessert demonstrates. I first learned about this classic combination from Terence Janericco, a Boston-based chef who wrote what is still one of my favorite cookbooks, Fabulous Fruit Desserts (Yankee Books, 1986).
6 pears, peeled, with stems left on
1 lemon, cut in half
2 ½ cups sweet cider
½ cups sugar
Strip of lemon peel
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cinnamon stick
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons Cognac
Rub the pears with the lemon halves and trim their bases so that they with stand upright. In a saucepan, simmer the cider, sugar, lemon peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick for 2 minutes. Add the pears and poach them until tender. Let the pears cool in the liquid. Discard the cinnamon stick. Whip the cream in a bowl and blend in the Cognac. Set aside.Transfer the pears to a serving dish. Bring the poaching liquid to a boils and reduce it to a syrup, then pour over the pears.Serve the pears, passing the cream separately.
Yield: 6 servings
Some delicious recipes from the LA Times’ “best of” lists:
Tom’s rosemary crust pie