It's already the end of October, the leaves are now crunchy, and I've managed at long last to work up a post with a recipe, but first things first, I have news: one week ago today, my nephew was born, my first official nephew, the cutest and sweetest little guy I've ever seen. Now I don't think I'm being necessarily biased here by saying that because others have concurred (and not just family members). He really is a pretty good looking little fella, and he's certainly garnered a lot of attention around these parts. Many people have been eager to see him this past week and I don't blame them -- he puts a smile on my face every time I see him. This nephew of mine holds a very special place in my heart.
There's much to look forward to with this new addition to the family, with loads of pictures already taken and much more to come. Welcoming a first grandchild is quite an occasion, but the simple things, the sweet memories of a first smile or watching him fall asleep are precious to me, and I hope those are some of the memories that I'll hold on to.
As for the cake, this is the apple cake for fall, the apple cake I'll want to return to every year as the leaves change and the markets fill up with boxes upon boxes overflowing with apples. It's a mildly sweet one, chunky with good sized cubes of apple and chopped walnuts and just a touch of cinnamon. Almost every bite has a soft piece of apple, each one kind of encapsulated in a juicy pocket, which I love. It's rustic, it's simple, and it's all about the apple. The cinnamon plays a background note here, which is nice. As much as fall spices are welcome, sometimes a cake that isn't so hung up on a medley of flavors but focuses for the most part on one, especially one that's in season, is better.
Although I haven't actually eaten it in the morning, I can imagine that it would be good for breakfast, in a coffee cake like sort of way. Then again, a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, as requested by certain parties, wouldn't be amiss either for an after dinner dessert. Or, you could go the route of frosting and smother the cake in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. Apple cake, much like carrot cake, is a prime companion for cream cheese frosting. For me, though, this cake is best on its own, like for a snack in the afternoon with a glass of milk. I'm more of the afternoon cake nibbler type, anyway, than cake for dessert type, at least on an everyday sort of basis. Now I do have to say I'm not a milk drinker, unless it's in my coffee or tea, and I often tease a certain person about drinking milk with baked sweets, but one afternoon, after slicing myself another piece, I decided to try it out, just once, just to see what the appeal was all about, and you know, I rather liked it. It felt downright wholesome. What works for me is the amount, just a small half glass, to cut the sweetness (as I was previously informed) and wash down every last bite. A glass of milk on its own I still won't do but with apple cake? I might just make it a habit.
Even for the grandest of occasions a straightforward recipe is all that's required. Sometimes the memory of a simple cake, the lingering flavor, lasts longer than a fancy, elaborate one, even if the cake itself didn't last all that long, as this one surely won't in your kitchen.
Apple Bundt Cake
Adapted from saveur.com
-I used jonagold apples, because they're a good crisp apple and sold in most markets. The other two, empire and ida red, I had not heard of before but am rather curious about. The apples for this cake need to be juicy and crisp in order to hold up while baking.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup safflower oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 jonagold, empire, or ida red apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 cups chopped shelled walnuts
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a bundt pan, and set pan aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix together the oil, applesauce, and eggs, then add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add apples and nuts and gently fold into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out top with a rubber spatula. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Set cake aside to cool for 15 - 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.