Nov 1st, 2006
So I imagine you can tell I've been busy. Busy, busy, busy. The blog has suffered, but this too shall pass - I'm sure I'll be back here blathering on in no time.
Last month Jim's parents were in town and we all spent a few days at a cabin out of the city. We had a day of sunshine, which was nice, but what I really wanted was to sit around the fire and listen to the rain on the roof. Luckily, the Pacific Northwest weather gods are always happy to oblige that particular request, and a storm moved in on the second day.
Once the scene was appropriately autumnal my desire to bake, never too far under the surface, surged to the fore. Luckily the cabin was equipped with a few random cookbooks, including a self-published collection of recipes in a white three ring binder called "Nanna's Cookbook." There was a brief explanation of how the cookbook came to be, but it was written to family members who would presumably know who "Nanna" was and where she came from. To a reader just randomly stumbling on the volume, it remained inpenetrable, yet also very clear - here were the collected recipes from a lifetime of putting dinner on the table and entertaining friends and family. Whoever Nanna is or was, she definitely liked to bake, and the desserts category spanned hundreds of recipes.
We had stopped at a fruit stand on the way to the cabin and bought a box of apples, so something involving apples seemed appropriate. And since the kitchen was not spectacularly well-equipped it would need to be simple - and sweet, as Jim's dad has a sweet tooth that was not being satisfied by the unsatisfactory storebought cookies we had around. This Raw Apple Cake fit the bill - simple, appley, and sweet. Oh boy is it sweet - the recipe includes equivalent amounts of sugar and flour, but not much oil, because the sugar seems to almost caramelize creating a moist cake with hints of butterscotch.
I've made the cake twice now - first using pecans and the second time adding in some chopped hazelnuts when my pecans ran low. Both were good, and the cake bakes up so easily and quickly it's a good last minute item if you have people coming over unexpectedly, or you have an early meeting at work with disgruntled co-workers that need a bit of soothing. My co-workers soothed themselves quite enthusiastically with this cake, and the resulting sugar high made the meeting much easier to get through.
So thank you Nanna, whoever you are, your little book of recipes was the perfect way to while away a blustery rainy day beside the fire.
Nanna's Apple Cake4 cups finely chopped apple
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups nuts
2 tsp vanilla
Grease and flour a 9 x 13" baking pan. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix apples with the sugar and cinnamon. Sift the flour with the baking soda and salt over the chopped apples. Add eggs, oil, nuts, and vanilla and stir until well mixed. Pour into pan and bake for 45 - 60 minutes.
While hot, spread soft butter on top and sprinkle with sugar.