Monday, November 14, 2011

Washington Apple Cake

There are dozens of recipes for "Washington Apple Cake" out there, but this one is special for a couple of reasons. The first is that the recipe for this cake was handed down to me from my Great-Grandmother (whom I believe discovered it in the newspaper). The second is that it contains a lot more (and different) spices than most apple cakes! Most ask for no more than two teaspoons of cinnamon, whereas this recipe calls for two tablespoons, plus a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. The cinnamon might seem excessive when you are making the cake (the batter is practically red, and the cake IS red when you take it out of the oven). But the apple/cinnamon/nutmeg combination actually produces a mild cinnamon flavour once it has been baked (I can't stand things that have heavy-handed flavours, so trust me when I say it's not spicy!). The cake is perfectly moist and topped with a delectable caramel frosting. A wonderful treat for a chilly fall evening!

Washington Apple Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 - 2 c. sugar
2 eggs

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
6 large apples - 3-4 cups diced (peeled)
2 tsp. vanilla

Oven 350 degrees 35 min. (That's all my great-grandmother wrote, but I would recommend baking until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, which is about 40 minutes).

Caramel Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 T evaporated milk
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Mix in small saucepan and heat lightly to just melt butter. Mix until sugar dissolves. Add enough confectioners sugar to make consistency right for spreading.

Those are the directions that came with the recipe. You will notice there are no directions provided for the cake - I think my great grandmother expected you to know how to mix a cake! Personally, I always prepare my wet ingredients and dry ingredients seperately and then add the dry ingredients to the wet in my mixer.

I find it really funny that she equates 6 large apples with 3 cups of diced apples! Today's apples are much, much larger than they were 100 years ago.(it reminds me of recipes from the colonial period, where they tell you to use 1/2 dozen eggs when three would do today - eggs were a lot smaller then!). For this recipe, I used 4 galas, which equaled about four cups when finely diced. Also, I would add that you can safely increase the amount of apples in the cake up to 4-5 cups. If you are using apples from your own orchard, then it will probably take six!

I made this cake for tea last week, and my oldest daughter (who just turned two) had a wonderful time eating cake and drinking tea from real teacups. This was her first tea party, and she clearly felt like quite the little grown-up!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm back!

I'm back! I have been enjoying time with both my lovely daughters (the youngest of whom - shown above - is now just a little over 2 months old). This time I really allowed myself to take a break from blogging, social media etc., and it's been a wonderful experience. That said, I feel that it's just about time to return to the virtual world! I definitely have missed you all, and hopefully there are some readers left, since I realize that three months is an eternity in blogging!

I also have to admit that one thing that has kept me from coming back sooner is that I've been having a bit of an identity crisis over what I would like The Earthly Paradise to be, especially now that I no longer have as much free time to devote to writing more serious Art History stuff (something I realize I haven't done in a while). Also, I can't help but notice that my interests have changed quite a bit since I first started this blog back in 2007! So, there might be a few tweaks in the works, which is something that I've been debating with myself about for quite a while. I'm still not entirely sure what this will mean, so stay tuned!