October is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather is getting cooler in the mornings and evenings and we hold out for hope that the rains will come soon. My neighbor’s kids are getting excited about the upcoming Halloween by decorating their yards with goblins, skeletons and huge fake black spiders and I’ve been purchasing sweets for their arrival at my front door on October 31st. Of course I won’t be baking treats for the youngsters, but their parents might enjoy a little something sweet while trekking through the neighborhood. This is where my apple cake will come in handy.
You’re probably wondering what inspired me to prepare this super moist cake. Recently while driving through the countryside of Sonoma County I ran across a farm called Green String Farm along Old Adobe Road in Petaluma. My sister Susan and I were taking my dad to the casino in Santa Rosa when we stumbled across this gem.
I was happy to learn that they sold local produce, nuts, flowers, olive oil, eggs, cheese, honey and herbs. These establishments are rare where I live in rural Walnut Creek, but are occasionally found in the hills of Petaluma. I know how much work goes into growing these vegetables because I have a garden also at my home. Keeping up with the water in the midst of the drought is not a small feat. This is why I appreciate buying from places like Green String Farm. I know my purchase will be fresh and fairly priced. The owner happened to be friendly, answered any questions we had and sent us on our way with a smile.
I found their walnuts to be the best I’ve ever tasted. They are sold in bulk by the pound in their shell. Apples pair well with walnuts and it’s the season when I’m in the mood for a warm spice cake. I’ve made this recipe for the past 15 years every time I have an excess of apples and I love serving it with a caramel sauce and Chantilly cream or vanilla ice cream. Luckily, I have plenty of time to bake before the trick or treating begins next week.
FRESH APPLE CAKE
4 C sliced apples (3-4 depending on the size. Leave the peels on for more fiber) Granny Smith or Johnagold or your favorite apple.
1 ½ C Granulated Sugar
2 C All Purpose Flour (Can substitute Coconut, or Almond Flour if you want less carbs)
2 tsp Baking soda
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Ginger
¼ tsp Nutmeg (freshly grated)
½ tsp Cloves
½ tsp Maldon Salt Flakes
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs (slightly beaten)
½ C Canola Oil
½-1 C chopped Walnuts
Vanilla Ice Cream
¾ C (6oz/185 g) Granulated Sugar
2 T Water
½ tsp fresh Lemon Juice
¾ C (6 fl oz/180 ml) Heavy Cream
In a medium size heavy saucepan combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat until it turns amber, 6-8 minutes. Do not stir. Tip the pan to ensure even cooking. Do not allow the sugar to burn. When amber color, remove from heat and add cream. Stir with a long handled spoon or whisk until the sauce is smooth and blended. Let sauce cool to warm and use immediately. Can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week.
Makes about 1 cup (8 fl oz/250ml).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sprinkle sugar over sliced apples in a large bowl and stir. In another bowl, combine all spices, soda, salt to flour and mix. Add dry ingredients to apples and mix with a wooden spoon.
In a separate bowl, measure out oil and add eggs and vanilla and stir.
Pour wet ingredients into apples and mix well. Add walnuts and pour evenly into a buttered 13X9 inch pan. Or for a special occasion, pour into separate small ramekins to serve individually. Baking time will be less for these.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean.
Serve alongside caramel sauce,and a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.