Friday, October 06, 2006

Apple Spice Cake

Many may think we leave it to the wisdom and foresight of Johnny Appleseed to spread the goodness of apple orchards throughout the United States. While Johnny can be accredited to spreading the seeds, few of the apples that came to be would ever be worthy of eating fresh picked.

Edible apples, rather those sweet enough to make it into our lunch sacks or slathered with peanut butter, need splicing to reproduce. Meaning the Red Delicious we eat today is very much a piece of the original Red Delicious tree first produced (not a seed descendent). Planting seeds of apples produce 10 very different fruit trees, more than likely none of which will be as sweet as the original.

The short of the long of it, our dear Johnny enjoyed knocking back a few in his day and thought it best to spread the good cheer throughout the land. Spreading seeds of apples, and therefore many a tart variety, led to a massive production of cider (the hard kind). Unfortunately, due to Prohibition, many of the orchards that Johnny is accredited with helping along were chopped down. On the flipside, clearing the bitter orchards very well may have led to space for the cherished sweet varietals we know and love today (my current favorite is the new Honeycrisp-- crisp, juicy and tastes like honey mixed into apple cider).

Any way you slice it, and any way you consume them, apples are delicious and deserve eating this time of year. Yet another tasty apple treat... (c/o D's favorite cake lady, Martha Stewart.)

Serving Size= 10-12 servings. Active time= about 15 minutes. Cook time= 1-¼ hours.
*1-1/3 cups vegetable oil
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups sugar
* 3 large eggs
* 3 to 4 Granny Smith apples [or other tart apple], cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups)
* 1 cup chopped assorted nuts, such as pecans and walnuts (optional)
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* Nonstick cooking spray with flour
[* I also added a 1/2 tsp of ground ginger and 1/2 tsp of allspice]

1) Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray [or butter]; set aside.
2) Working over a large sheet of parchment paper, sift together flour, cinnamon,[allspice and ground ginger] baking soda, and salt; gather sifted ingredients into center of sheet; set aside.
3) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs; mix on high speed until lemon yellow.
4) Fold reserved parchment in half lengthwise; with mixer on medium speed, gradually shake in dry ingredients until just incorporated.
5) Add apples and, if desired, nuts, to batter; mix to combine [using the electric beater. The juice from the apples will escape a little as they break down and loosen the batter]. Add vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
6) Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes.
7) Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack.
8) Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack; serve with whipped cream, ice cream or plain.

Check out other Fall Feast-ival items over at WellFed's FitFare!

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