Easy Peasy Apple Cake
It feels like my whole little world is ripe right now, as the blackberry season ends, the tomatoes grow fat, and the apples start to drop. We’re full swing into our back-to-school madness, and this mama and her kids want to drop, too, heavy with soaking up all of September’s changes and willing to lay on the hard earth and rot for a bit if it means we can rest.
The weekend is almost upon us, and I’m greeting it with both relief and a driving need to bake. Or can. Or freeze. Or cure meat. Anything to stock the pantry and the root cellar for the hard freeze of winter. Nevermind that I don’t have a root cellar and that our part of Oregon rarely freezes hard at all. Apparently, this is the time of year Mama Me must hunker down and gather my chickies into my nest despite the fact they’ll immediately try to peck each other’s eyes out; honest to God, as long as I can bake something with cinnamon or nutmeg or pumpkin spice, I do not care.
I’m sitting right now at my dusty patio table watching the rusty shovels lie impotently against the fence, which we didn’t stain for the tenth year in a row. The lawn mower sits half on and half off the grass, and two chairs are upended, catawampus, the last remnants of summer forts. The first leaves are starting to change even though it still smells like summer, and the fall breeze rustling in trees is making me nervous because it sounds just like a twenty-pound bag of rice spilling on the kitchen floor.
These are the sights and sounds and feelings at the beginning of fall, and so I must bake. I don’t know why or how that makes sense, only that it does.
This weekend, I’m baking apple cake. My kind of apple cake. The kind that’s easy peasy. The kind that’s possible with five kids underfoot. The kind that’s pretty. And rustic. And works for breakfast or dessert. Or lunch or coffee. Or second breakfast or afternoon snack. With apples and cinnamon delivering an awesome performance on center stage. There’s really nothing more I can ask of a cake. Unless it can bring me a beer.
And so, without further ado, I present to you…
Easy Peasy Apple Cake
First, cream together 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of soft butter.
I highly recommend hiring a five-year-old boy for this step. They’re vigorous mixers and they’ll work for licking the bowl. If you don’t have a five-year-old boy of your own, I’ll bet you can find a mama who’ll loan you hers for cheap. Perhaps for the low, low price of keeping him overnight.
Next, add two eggs.
Then, add 1 T. vanilla, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. baking powder, and 1 c. flour.
And by 1 T. vanilla, I mean a giant splash or one glug. I’ve never measured vanilla in my life. Also, don’t forget to leave out the salt. I do that every time, and it doesn’t seem to matter. This is art, not science. Well, technically it’s chemistry but it tastes like home and hearth and happiness so I’m sticking with art.
Gently, barely mix it all together and pour the batter into a greased pan. I use a cast iron skillet ’cause it’s somehow perfect for fall, but you can use a 9×9 glass casserole dish or a pie pan… knock yourself out.
Cut and layer apples for the top. You can go for pretty or just pile fruit on that thing. The batter’s gonna grow over it, anyway, so it won’t matter in the end. There’s just something about fall that rewires my brain and make me fan my fruit like this:
I can’t help it.
Then sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.
And throw on some pats of butter.
Just for giggles, you know.
And pop that pan of Ah, it’s fall! in the 350′ oven for 30 minutes. Or longer. Up to 40 minutes, perhaps. You pick. I slightly underbake mine (and broil the top for 2-3 minutes to crisp it up) because I leave it in the skillet — less to wash when the baking pan’s the serving pan — so my lower baking time allows it to keep cooking for a while after I pull it from the oven.
Serve warm. Or cold. Or lukewarm. With whipped cream. Or ice cream. Or all by itself.
And then pass out for a while.
Easy apple garnish, anyone?
If you cut an apple in the middle, instead of top-down,
…there’s a star inside. It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s more likely kids’ll eat their apples. Win/win/win.
And, hey! This recipe is also good for other fall fruit. Like plums.
Easy Peasy Apple Cake:
the short, boring directions
1/2 c. soft butter
Gently mix in:
1 T. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. flour
Pour batter into an greased pan.
2 c. sliced fruit
2 T. cinnamon sugar
Bake: 350′ for 30 minutes
What’s your favorite, easy way to use fall fruit? Do tell! Add links if you’ve got ‘em. I’m always on the lookout for new, simple, delicious recipes.