The apples. Oh, the APPLES.
Now, I’m not first world probleming, here, so don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about them. I love all this free food! But my word, I’ve never in my life had to deal with so many at once. In fact, if you added up all the apples I’ve EVER eaten, 37 years of apple lovin’, I’m not sure that it would match how many I have on the ground, in pots and pans waiting to be processed, in the coolers, and buckets, and baskets right this very moment.
They seem to be multiplying, too. I swear there weren’t as many last night.
And the most unnerving thing is that I think…I think they’re moving.
I came down this morning to get coffee and right there in front of the coffee maker was a huge stock pot of apples. How did it get there? I didn’t put it there.
“Yeah, right, Bethie.”
Think about it. Would I let anything get in the way of me and my morning cup of joe?
“Hm. You make a good point…”
They were waiting there for me, folks, I know they were. I’m not quite sure why. Were they trying to send a message? Make my mind think back on the silent screams of the dozens I’d already peeled and cored?
“What are you going to do, Bethie?” their shiny-skinned gaze seemed to say. “What’s it going to be for us? Are you going to skin us alive or boil us whole?”
Apples have completely taken over. They’ve turned the tables. THEY are the ones trying to hunt ME.
They came from 30 feet above…
Just when you thought it was safe to go into the orchard…
An apple a day lets the boogeyman out to play…
Way up high in the apple tree, two little apples smiled at me…oh, how they smiled *evil cackle*…
…can you get high on apple butter fumes?
I compost the cores and peels. For the first few days of dealing with the apple onslaught, the woodland creatures seemed to appreciate the heap in the compost. I’d get up in the mornings to find the pile nibbled down to almost nothing by the raccoons and bunnies and skunks and woodchucks.
Even Nature has become sick of apples, though. I found a few Yelp reviews of my compost pile that are less than flattering.
“I used to find great eats here, but now it’s like the chef has just given up. 2 stars.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I like apples. But when did egg shells and carrot peelings become passe? Not so sure I can get on board with one-ingredient menu. Decor was nice, though. 3 stars.”
“Ugh, another fru fru chef who thinks they found the next big thing. News flash: you aren’t as cool or hip as you think you are. And your parking is a joke. 1 star.”
Ouch. I’m not going to lie. That last one stung.
I think today will be the last big push on apple processing, which will no doubt be a relief for my kids. They’ve GOT to be jonesin’ for an orange right about now. I’ll get the rest of the apple crop done and the last apple cake baked for awhile and then move on.
Before I go, I’m going to share a recipe with you. Yes, it involves mashed apple carcasses. However, since the odds are good that you aren’t being haunted by the torturous memories of skinning thousands of the little buggers, I think it’s a recipe you’ll actually really like. It doesn’t have many ingredients, and comes out great every time.
Very Easy Apple Cake
…oh, and did I mention how easy it is to make?
20 oz. unsweetened applesauce (homemade or canned, either works. And that’s 2-1/2 liquid cups.)
2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar (or, for a deeper flavor, 1/2 c white and 1/2 c brown sugars)
1 T corn starch
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 T cocoa powder (optional, but gives a much better flavor if you use it)
1 tsp salt
1 T apple pie spices of your choosing (more on that below)
Optional: up to 1 cup add-ins of your choice (also more below)
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Grease and flour a bundt pan, tube pan, two loaf pans, or a 9×13 cake pan.
3. Mix together all dry ingredients with a spoon. No mixer needed for this recipe! For the spices, you could buy a can of “pumpkin pie spice”, or you could create your own blend with your favorite ground spices from this list: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves. I generally tend to do about 2 tsps cinnamon, then make up the rest with small amounts of nutmeg, allspice, and ginger, because that’s what I personally like. Customize it how you will. Just remember, cloves pack a real punch, and ground ginger powder tends to get bitter as it ages. I’d go easy on the clove, and if you haven’t used that ginger powder that’s been sitting in the back of your cupboard all year, I’d consider ditching it and picking up a new can.
4. Add the applesauce. Stir. At first, you’ll notice it takes a bit of effort to get it to come together, but give it a few good turns with the spoon and it’ll magically turn into thick cake batter.
5. Now is the time to put in any add-ins you want and give them a stir just until they are evenly mixed throughout the batter. What do I mean by add-ins? Well, this recipe is a fantastic base that can be easily altered through the addition of things like: raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, crumbled cookies, sprinkles… If it’s dry and you think it would taste good in a cake, give it a go. However, you don’t need to put anything extra in at all. I usually make this without anything added, and it comes out tasting like a dark spice cake. Yum.
6. Bake for an amount of time that’s determined by your pan size. Larger, flatter pans will take about 40 minutes or so. Pans that are smaller, and therefore have a thicker layer of batter will take longer, 60 minutes. It’s like a banana or zucchini bread in that respect. To tell if the cake is done, a toothpick isn’t the best method for something like this. Instead, look at the cake edges around the pan. They should be slightly domed and just starting to pull away from the walls of the pan. Let the cake cool for ten minutes, then tip it out onto a plate or platter and let it cool completely. You can ice it however you choose, or not at all. It’s a moist cake that is actually good without heavy icing.
If you’d like to honor the apple tradition, here’s a quick and easy little caramel-ish glaze:
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 T water
1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
2. Cook over medium heat until the sugar crystals have dissolved, stirring constantly. This will happen quicker than you think, about 2-3 minutes, and it’ll burn if you aren’t paying attention! You can also do this step in a microwave. Microwave for 30 seconds in a microwave safe bowl. Stir, and pop it back in for 30 more seconds, repeating until it’s ready. It takes about 2 minutes to get a smooth glaze with no crystals, or about the same time it takes on the stove. In this instance, the microwave won’t really speed the process up.
3. When it’s very hot, the glaze will be super runny. As it cools, it thickens. When in this process you want to glaze your cake is up to you. I often will pour half over the top of the cake immediately, to allow some of the glaze to be absorbed into the cake, then pour the other half when things have cooled and thickened a bit. However, if you’re doing a bundt or tube cake, the glaze will run down the middle and collect in the well before seeping into the bottom. I personally like a moist bottom.
CAKE. I like my CAKE to have a moist bottom. Get your mind out of the gutter, perv.
Anyway, how you glaze is your call. I’ve done all I can to inform you of your choices. Go forth and make me proud.
Now, I know that was a lot of writing for what I claimed was a wicked easy cake. It is, because I’m wordy and want to make sure that the first time you make this recipe, you know what you’re doing. But, break it down. Applesauce, flour, leavening, and spices. That’s it. All in one bowl, stirred by hand, dumped with little care and baked until it’s done. No pressure. No stress. Probably the easiest cake recipe I’ve ever come across. If it takes you more than three minutes to get this thrown together and into the oven, you’re doing it wrong.
And, did you notice what it does NOT have in it? No eggs, meaning no cholesterol for those who care about that. No oil or margarine or butter, so no added fat.
Hey, stop with the look of dubiousness! Just because it’s healthier than most cake recipes doesn’t mean it can’t get a stamp of approval. I’m a cake lover. I wouldn’t give you a healthy recipe unless it was also a legitimately TASTY recipe. Give it a try. You’ll be surprised by how good it really is.
I stand behind this cake 100%.
…or at least I will in a month or two when the judgmental, accusatory stares from all those I am about to slice and score and smash are but a distant memory.
Thus concludes a quick Appling for Appleday, Appletember 3, 2015. I’m going to break up the apple processing monotony with laundry and cupboard reorganizing. Did I say I was going to whoop it up once the kiddies went back to school or what. Oh baby. This party cannot be contained.