Let me set the scene.
It was a cold, dark, rainy night. And in the kitchen, I was baking…
(Cue ominous music) Au – tumn – tumn – tumn – tumn - tumnnnnnn…
Did you hear that? Yes, that’s right. Yesterday’s dreary weather (all day rain in New York) was a portentous reminder that soon, the seasons are going to change.
Yes, soon… but not yet. Please not yet! I still want more summer! I need more peaches, apricots, cherries, give me lemons, blueberries, figs!!! I haven’t had one fig yet from the tree out back. I want more grilling, more sangria, more days on the beach, more nights on the patio. I’ll even take bug bites, really!
I realize I’ve got more time (remember, dear, it’s not even Labor Day, yet), but yesterday, it really felt like the glory days of summer had come to an end. It rained all day — not that exciting summer storm that rolls up and out only to reveal the sun again in a few hours — it rained that wearying, chilly kind of rain, the kind that involves soggy feet and requires an umbrella lest you catch a cold. I stayed indoors mostly. And of all the possible fruits of the summer, the only ones I had with me in the house were apples.
Apples, the quintessential fall fruit. And I fell for it. I went with my mood and baked a very autumnal apple bundt cake, spiced with cinnamon and all.
I perhaps would deserve to be cast out of the seasonal food movement’s community garden of Eden for this transgression, but I’m afraid I never even quite gained admission to that private club, which is to say I’m still having a hard time figuring out seasonal cooking.
I really love the concept, and I have learned a lot since reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and making my first forays into the topic (such as with Blackberry Pear Crisp and Plum Pan-Kuchens and Walnut Pesto), but if I were to evaluate myself again using the Stages of Change model (as described in the Walnut Pesto post), I don’t think I can say I’ve made it through the preparation stage yet. I tried to get some action in there, but it seems I need to rethink some of the plans I originally made.
For example, I had a great time in the garden this summer, but it was my first attempt at vegetable gardening, so I haven’t really yet collected much bounty. Though my beans are finally showing up in numbers, what I’ve grown is not going to last me through the end of the month, let alone the end of the year (though I am now working on a fall garden with carrots, spinach, and a few lettuces!). I also need to rethink my reliance on farmer’s markets for local, seasonal produce because those in my area really do not work with my budget. (This is a topic I’m thinking to address more in depth soon because I think it is a real problem underlying a number of health disparties in this country today.)
Anyways, as you might guess, what did end up working with my budget this week was a pound of apples marked down to 99 cents in the reject section of the supermarket. And after staying away from the oven (as must as possible, except for maybe a Roast Chicken here and there…) throughout the hot days of summer, I decided to seize the rainy day.
I substituted 1/3 whole wheat flour in the recipe below, cut down the sugar by 1/4 cup, and also replaced half the oil with applesauce. I was thinking of using 1 cup applesauce and forgetting about the apple juice, but I wasn’t sure if this would lend enough moisture. I was also thinking about no oil at all… Any ideas about what might happen?
The good news is, my husband reports he would happily eat this for breakfast… Only he can get away with eating cake for breakfast!
Apple Bundt Cake
adapted from The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 pound apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, oil, applesauce, apple juice, vanilla and eggs. Beat until well blended, about two minutes. Stir in apples, raisins, and walnuts, if using.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
Bake until cake pullsaway from side of the pan and toothpic inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Use a thin spatula to loosen edges of cake from pan. Invert cake onto a rack, and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Makes 16 servings.
Serve with tea if you like!
And heck, while were at it with this fall theme, just slather it with some maple butter.