Note: This is a post I started in early November. Now that my breast cancer treatment is done, I’m getting back in the habit of regular blogging.
Back to work, back to life, back — finally — to blogging. I feel positive, energetic, and remarkably flabby from three months away from the gym. I’m aiming for a lifestyle that is healthy and pleasurable at the same time. More exercise helps. I still want food to be delicious, but I’m trying to eat a little less of it. Incorporating more vegetables (which I love) and fruit also helps.
My colleague and friend Patsy had a bumper crop of apples this fall, and was generous with them. I sent some off with Tom when he went to visit Luke in college; Luke loves fresh fruit (especially apples). I had several fruit-and-cheddar plates as light lunches. And I made a cake.
This cake is mostly fruit, with just enough batter to hold the apples together. It manages to be both moist and light at the same time, with lovely caramel tones from the brown sugar. The cinnamon sugar topping creates a delicate, crackly crust.
Once again, I have my mom to thank (she’s often my source for baked goods). I’m not sure where she found the original recipe, but it’s been tweaked along the way. I use less sugar than Mom does, and brown sugar instead of white. We both like the apples in larger, bite-sized chunks, while others prefer the fruit to be finely chopped or even shredded. I like the additional crunch of walnuts (or pecans), but you can leave them out. I’ve added raisins at times, and made the cake with pears instead of apples. I’ve even made a version of this cake with carrots and apples.
The cake is sweet enough for dessert, but with all that fruit and the whole wheat flour, you can feel relatively virtuous eating it for breakfast or a snack.
3 1/2 cups peeled, cored, chopped apples (to about 1″)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbs. white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Grease and flour an 11×7-inch pan.* In a large bowl, toss the apple chunks with the brown sugar. (I just used the quart measuring cup that I measured the apples in.) Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla.
Stir about a third of the dry mixture into the egg mixture, just until combined. Stir in half the apples and sugar. Repeat with another third of the dry, then the rest of the apples, then the remaining dry ingredients. Fold in the walnuts. The batter will be nearly as thick as cookie dough. That’s fine: the apples will release a lot of liquid when the cake bakes.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. In a tiny bowl, stir together the white sugar and cinnamon for the topping if using, and sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging, but not raw batter.
*If you choose to make this cake in a 9-inch square pan, bake for about 50 minutes. If you use a 9×13-inch pan, start checking after 20 minutes.