Friday, May 29, 2009
The Apple Cake of Righteousness
So why am I baking an apple cake, one might wonder, on the one day of the year I could completely justify making blintzes for dinner, or even a cheesecake...
I'm really not sure. It just sort of happened; but now that I think about it, I suspect it has something to do with the fact that my main peeps have been sick for the last couple of weeks. First my mom and now Bill. I've been nursing both of the patients -- which for me mostly means cooking enormous batches of soup, loading everyone up with Chinese herbs and kvetching loudly that no one is washing their hands often enough. Last week I produced multiple batches of matzoh balls for my poor sick mom, and now for the last three days I've been turning out pots of sizzling rice soup, meal after meal (luckily, Bill loves sizzling rice soup, or the repetition wouldn't be much of a comfort to him in his drippy, feverish state.)
I suddenly found myself making many of his faves yesterday -- fish with wild leek pesto, popovers, tom kha gai, and now this -- this apple cake that he loves best of all. I couldn't swear to it, but I believe the original recipe came out of the Settlement House Cookbook a million years ago. And did I mention that this apple cake, which my grandmother used to make for Rosh Hashanah, is also my mom's favorite thing to eat? Strangely, she and Bill have the same favorite foods, along with sharing the same hypervigilant, overly analytical nursemaid. Of course, this is the best apple cake in the world, so it isn't hard to love.
Anyway, since it is, in fact, Shavuot, let me quote Megillat Ruth by way of reminding my sick mother and my sick husband where I'm coming from and where it's at...
"But Ruth replied: Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God."
(Ohhhh...the righteousness...the righteousness...)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch of allspice and nutmeg (optional)
1 cup raisins
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar, or a little less according to taste
1/4 cup apple juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with spices, raisins and sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, apple juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apple/raisin mixture over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples/raisins on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean