I’ve been late in the day posting my lovely recipes these past few days because of kids holiday and school activities. Last night, two of my children had to choose between two different singing gigs on opposite sides of the valley. They opted for Christmas caroling. The thing is that one of the people who helped plan it ended up having emergency gall bladder surgery, couldn’t attend, and the group needed an extra driver. They saw me pull up in my minivan and I couldn’t say no. It turned out to be an extremely enjoyable evening and I feel blessed that I could be part of it. At the end, one of my new friends gave me a bag of gorgeous hand picked apples which she picked up from an orchard in Santaquin, Utah last week. They’re so beautiful, aren’t they?
I was delighted. I’m not sure what kind these are, but they apples are fragrant, firm, delicate in flavor, and super sweet. They brought back fond memories of when I lived in New England, surrounded by apple orchards and farms, and you could pick your own apples and pay by the bag full. Out there those were McIntosh apples, which are my absolute favorite, followed closely by Granny Smith. In fact, I have both kinds in my kitchen right now. I bought them for today’s featured recipe, but these gift apples were so pleasing, I could not resist honoring them by featuring them in my special apple cake.
Over a decade ago now, I served a mission for my church to Hartford, Connecticut. It was one of the best experiences of my life and some of my fondest friends live there. During my first few months, my trainer and I visited a dear woman every week. She would tell us stories and make us dinner and care for us almost like we were her own daughters. One of my best recipes is one she taught me, and this one came from her grandmother. I miss her and think of her every time I make it. She simply called it apple cake, but I call it New England Apple Cake. The only difference I have made is that I changed the oil to butter and increased the quantity and variety of spices because it reminds me even more so of New England this time of year.
New England Apple Cake
4 cups of apples, peeled and chopped (Pick your favorite kind. I usually choose between McIntosh, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp, depending on availability.)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Liberally grease a 9×13 pan.
Mix apples, sugar, spices, and butter. Allow to sit for a couple minutes to draw the water out of the apples. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in the salt, baking soda, and flour. Fold in nuts if desired. Spoon mixture into pan and gently spread evenly. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.