It’s fall! The leaves are turning and that means it is also apple season. Little did we know when we moved here last year that we would be in the middle of apple country. There are many apple orchards within a 15 minute drive of our house and if you expand that radius, the number of orchards just keeps multiplying. We are not strangers to pick your own apples, having gone every year for almost 20 years now. However, we’ve never been this spoilt for choice for apple orchards. As a result, the boys and I are on an unofficial mission to visit as many apple farms as we can so we can better assess our favorite.
So far, we’ve gone to two.
Ok, that’s not exactly fulfilling the mission, but, unfortunately, we also have to get some work done around here sometimes. Sigh.
Anyway, the benefit to going more frequently is that we do not feel the need to pick a whole season’s apples all in one go. So, we have been picking one basket at a time. This means that our apples are always fresh! What a bonus!
There is nothing like eating a fresh picked apple. They are crisp and juicy and scrumptious. We easily ate through over half of our first basket before I even started thinking about baking anything.
And when I started baking, I naturally turned to cake first.
Now, apple cake and I have a rocky relationship. I love the idea of apple cake, but often do not like the reality of apple cake. It can often be very moist, almost soggy, and they have notoriously long bake times, which can make them hard to judge doneness. They are also often really yummy warm and eaten the day they are baked, but as the days go by, they get soggier and wetter.
That soggy cake texture has never been appealing to me. I wanted a cake that was moist, but able to hold up for a few days without becoming pasty. And I also wanted a cake that would take a fair amount of apples. After all, at this time of year, I am usually trying to use up as many apples as possible before they go bad on the counter. I didn’t want to make a cake that would just use one apple.
After several tries, I think I finally have a cake recipe that accomplishes all those things. And it has booze in it as well.
Plus, the recipe is pretty easy; no mixer necessary. The hardest part is chopping up the apples. And, I have included a little bit of whole wheat, so it’s also good for you!
It is especially good with salted caramel slathered on top of it.
What’s not to like?
Simple Boozy Apple Cake
makes one 9 inch square cake
You can use any kind of booze in this cake. I tried both Smoked Maple Bourbon and a lighter apple Liquor that I had. Both were good, though the apple Liquor one was a much lower proof, which made it almost imperceptible in the finished cake. If you don’t want to use booze, you can also use the same amount of orange juice or apple juice/cider. I also topped my cakes with a glaze of Smoked Maple Bourbon Caramel sauce. Very yummy and I highly recommend this addition. You can find the recipe here. The caramel sauce can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the fridge.
4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced, about 16-18 ounces after dicing
1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon, rum, hard cider, or apple liquor
1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) lemon juice
1 and 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (option, but very good)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, melted and cooled
Butter and flour a nine inch square cake pan or spray with a nonstick spray with flour added.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the apples, booze, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, lemon zest, and butter until slightly lighter in color. Whisk in the eggs until well combined and light. This will take about a minute.
Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. It will be very dry. Do not try to get all the flour mixed in. There should still be a few spots of flour when you stop (see photos above).
Add the apples and all the liquid in the bowl to the batter. Stir with the spatula until the batter smoothes out. Scrape into your prepared pan and level it with your spatula.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake will be golden brown and a toothpick or tester should come out clean.
Let cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before glazing with caramel sauce and eating. The cake will keep for up to three days at room temperature, covered. It will get moister as the days pass, but should not get soggy. Enjoy!
Would you believe that I am still working my way through all the apples we picked over a month ago? How have I made them last so long, you ask? Well, a few weeks ago, I put the last half bushel in the fridge, basket and all. Apples will keep well in the fridge for quite a long time, especially when you have picked them yourself and they don’t have to make a journey across the country to your local store that might take weeks. I usually still have apples in the fridge from our farm day during Thanksgiving week for my apple pie or tart dessert post turkey.
Well, after I stuck that basket in the fridge, we went into full production mode for cookie dough and they have been ignored until this past weekend when we were trying to fit a particularly large batch of groceries in the fridge. The husband grumbled about that blankety blank basket of apples in there and was I ever going to do anything with it? I sighed, very loudly, and yanked the basket out of the fridge and put it on the counter, where it sat for a day.
Yesterday, it was good to spend some time in the kitchen that had nothing to do with cookies or an obligatory dinner. I reacquainted myself with my sourdough starter and the apples and made a couple of apple treats for us to enjoy.
First, there was an apple sourdough bread with dried cranberries. My inspiration was this King Arthur Flour recipe that I have made previously, but instead of making that bread dough, I made my usual Not Flatbread recipe. I added a little potato flour and oatmeal to my dough, which made it super dry. But, instead of waiting until the end of mixing to add the apples, I did it as soon as the dough began coming together. This allowed some moisture from the apples to permeate the dough and, after about 10 minutes of kneading, the dough was actually pretty sticky. Lastly, I added dried cranberries and let the dough mix for another few minutes. The cranberries evened out the moisture level of the dough a little by absorbing some and, at the end, I had a really silky dough.
This is all highly experimental stuff. I tend to do this quite often, throwing stuff in a recipe that I think might be good and sometimes it works out. Sometimes, though, it does not, but I always learn something from it. Most of the time, it is edible, though there have been a few unfortunate results. This time, it worked out beautifully. The bread is tasty, especially when it is toasted, and the boys loved it today with bacon and cheddar.
The best thing is that I got four average sized loaves from one batch, which means we can look forward to more yummy toast and sandwiches in the future.
Secondly, I made this apple cake recipe, which fascinated me because of its mixing method. Mostly, it’s a dump and mix sort of thing. See?
You put everything in a bowl except the apples and nuts.
Then you mix it up until it’s sort of dry and pasty.
Lastly, you add the apples and walnuts and look! It turns into a cake batter. This is another case of letting the excess moisture in apples work to your advantage in a recipe. Many apple cake recipes are yucky to me because they are too moist or the moisture from the apples makes the cake pasty, which, quite franky, is not the right texture for a cake.
Seriously, this is one of the easiest apple cakes I have ever made.
It’s been awhile since we have had cake in the house and it is a really nice change from cookies and Halloween candy, let me tell you. Plus, it’s just right for autumn with the brown sugar and maple frosting on top. I halved the frosting recipe because no one here is a fan of lots of frosting and i think this thin layer is just right. It lets the flavor the of cake take center stage. To add some maple flavor, I added a little maple oil to the frosting.
Also, the cake is just as good the next day. The only thing that I would take issue with in the recipe is that it says it yields 24 servings. Maybe this would be true if it was mediocre, but I’d say with a cake this good, the serving count is closer to 15, less if you have growing boys in the house. I will certainly be making this recipe again and, if you like apple cake, I urge you to give this recipe a try.
We are having the warmest autumn this year. Some days this week have felt like summer, though the evenings have been ok. The air quality has gotten progressively worse and I miss those clear, crisp fall mornings. I think this is the first time that we have ever gone to go apple picking in shorts and it felt weird to be hot at the apple orchard.
It actually wasn’t too bad. There were more bugs than usual flying around, but it was still pretty fun and there were plenty of apples still in the orchard to be picked.
Here’s what we did not do because of the heat, though: We did not go to the pumpkin patch and pick out pumpkins. We also did not go to the corn maze and sadly, we did not get any apple cider donuts. The lack of donuts was not our fault, though. They were short staffed in the store and had not started making them yet when we were ready to leave.
So, aside from the approximately 200 apples we have hanging out in the living room, we are still waiting for autumn to arrive. How about you?
Today, I am feeling more or less like a healthy human after being sick for several days. This sickness took me by surprise just about every day. It was nothing like the sicknesses that I heard about from my friends or my kids’ friends this season so far. There’s been lots of flu and respiratory colds and tummy viruses, but mine was a new beast. With this sickness, I lost my voice for the first time in my life. I sounded like a strange creature for several days in a row, with the exception of one day. That day, I sounded like nothing because when I spoke nothing came out. Otherwise, I wasn’t terribly sick. There was no fever nor were there any chills; just a little tiredness and some sinusy stuff. The boys kept wondering why I sounded so funny. I just shrugged and tried not to talk, which is really hard when one is a homeschool mom.
In any case, I am telling you all this because today is Tuesdays with Dorie day and, though I intended to make this week’s recipe, French Apple Tart, I did not get to it. I have, however, made it numerous times in the past. It is one of my favorite recipes in the book. In fact, I made it for dessert this past Thanksgiving and thought I took a picture of it, but alas, I could not find it. That’s why, today, I am just asking you to pretend you saw it here.
I can tell you what I had planned to do with this tart. I planned to use applesauce that I canned back in October from apples we picked ourselves. The pie dough would have been replaced by either the recipe that I have developed or the pate sucree from Dorie’s other book, Baking from My Home to Yours. The pate sucree is nice because it doesn’t have to be chilled before it is pressed into the pan, saving the rolling out step. I also would have opened a jar of apple jelly that I canned to use as the glaze. It would have been a lovely tart. In fact, I know it to be an impressively beautiful and utterly delicious tart. I make it at least once a year at holiday time and it never fails to get all gobbled up. Now, I am a little sad that I didn’t make it. It’s possible that I may still gather up the energy to get it done today. Or maybe not.
In the meantime, if you want to see some pretty tarts that mine might have resembled, you can visit the Tuesdays with Dorie group or you can try making it yourself. The recipe can be found here. Otherwise, you’ll just have to pretend you saw my tart today.
Incidentally, if you were at Thanksgiving dinner with me and you took a picture of the dessert table, can you send me the picture? Thanks! Then, maybe you won’t have to pretend you saw it here!
Edited to add: yay! I have a picture of my tart for you to see below, on the right. As you can see, it really is beautiful and now you can stop doubting that I ever made it in the first place.
Now, you don’t have to use your imagination! Seriously, it’s a great tart, and I will probably be making it for years to come.
After about a month of baking, cooking, and eating apples almost everyday, we are finally nearing the end of the apples we picked. I have less than 20 left in the fridge and they will likely languish there for a little while. Oh, yes, I have plans to make some Cranberry Apple Jam now that cranberries can be found in the stores, but not for a couple of weeks, probably.
But, before I declare a final end to Apple Frenzy, I had to try out the Apple Cinnamon bagels I mentioned in my last post. These were on my mind since I wrote those words, and I knew I would not be able to stop thinking about them until I actually made them. Now, these were not made using the recipe from Baking with Julia. These are actually sourdough bagels, based on a recipe from The La Brea Bakery Cookbook. I opted to make these because, of course, I had to feed the sourdough starters.
The recipe got divided in half to make 9 everything bagels with the plain half. With the other half, I added some half dehydrated apples and half a Tablespoon of cinnamon. There were a lot of apples, so the dough was really chunky, but I forged ahead. They turned out just fine.
The husband was excited to see me making bagels again so soon after last week’s batch. I told him not to get used to it, but really, these are so good, that I may just have t o make them much, much more often.
The boys and I ate one of these while it was still warm and crusty from the oven and it was divine! Crusty, with a slight chewiness, and a little bit sweet from the apples. It was bagel heaven.
And I think that might be the end of the road for the Apple Frenzy posts. It was a lot of fun here. I sure hope you enjoyed it! Next week, crafting will make a return to the blog with my Rhinebeck report. I’ll be back with lots of yarny goodness, I hope. Have a great weekend, everyone!