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While hiding out from Irma, Andy and I had the opportunity to get a jump on fall activities and go apple picking with my mom. While there are literally dozens of orchards within a hour’s drive of her house, we ended up at Mercier Orchard, a wonderful place that we have been visiting for years now. Usually, we are just there for lunch and to load up on baked goods since we’ve never been in town during apple picking season.
Now there wasn’t hay involved, but we did load into a wagon pulled by a tractor to get out into the permium apple picking are of the orchard. The guide hanging onto the back of the wagon told us that they grow 53 different varieties of apples on the property, along with other fruits throughout the year.
I have a sneaking suspicion that our trip was as much for my mom as it was for us. I’d jokingly mentioned apple picking in passing and she latched on to the idea and made. it. happen.
We picked either 6 or 8 of the varieties currently available, and I wish I could tell you their names, but they all sort of looked the same in the bag. The only ones I remember for sure are Red Delicious, Candy Crisp & Macintosh. Andy heard the name Candy Crisp, and he was back and forth checking every single row until he tracked those babies down.
I was also surprised how athletically my mom hiked around. Not that she doesn’t walk every morning, but damn, you should have seen that woman practically sprinting when she spotted some especially vibrant purple-y red apples.
We ended up with almost an entire bushel of apples. I thought my mom/extended family would want some, but they decided we should take them all back to Florida. It filled the entire bottom drawer of the fridge.
I’ve managed to use about a 1/4, but I am thinking I am going to have to up my baking game to get through everything while it’s still at peak freshness. Andy has valiantly offered to eat as many cinnamon apples as I care to make. He’s a giver like that.
Let me open with this: looks are not everything. This cake may look fine, but what you can’t see is that there are random crystalized chunks of sugar all over the top of this. A lovely molar threatening crunch that I did not find all that appealing. What happened you might ask? I was an idiot, and I thought that I could just watch the video. In the video, they show the sugar/water mixture magically turn a beautiful golden brown; in reality, not so much. I missed the “no stirring” part, and since my mixture was staring to get a little dark on the bottom, I stirred it. Then as I was pouring it out into the top of my pan, it started to turn into candy chunks. Fun part, I ran out of sugar making the cake batter (so I couldn’t remake it), so I just threw everything in the oven and hoped for the best.
The actual recipe:
6 Tbsp (¾ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature,
plus more for greasing
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced into 12 pieces
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ¾ cups sugar
⅓ cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F.
Thoroughly butter a 9-inch cast-iron pan and arrange the apple slices in the bottom of the pan, cut-side down. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.
In a sauce pan, combine 1 cup sugar with ⅓ cup water and bring to a boil until it turns light brown, about 10 minutes. Swirl the pan but do not stir. Pour over the apples.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the eggs and whip until smooth. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add ⅓ of the flour mixture and alternate between the milk and flour until all of the flour has disappeared. Stir in vanilla and pour on top of the apples.
Bake until the top is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes then flip onto an appropriate size plate and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
- All in all, I will probably give this another try. It was just a bad situation on a not great day, and issues aside, the taste was okay. Andy even gleefully claimed the cake as “his” when I told him I wanted to toss the rest of it. It’s been his dessert and breakfast for the past couple of days.
So I broke down this weekend and finally made that apple crumble I’ve been craving for the past couple of weeks. It was everything I wanted and more. Warm spicy apples, crunchy toasted crumble, and the delicious apple sauce that begs to be cleaned from the inside of the bowl with your finger. I’ve made several different types of crumbles over the years, and I’ve taken all of the best parts and created the recipe below.
- 5 medium granny smith apples
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp melted vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cup copped pecans
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 5 tbsp melted vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
- Preheat oven to 350, and spray casserole dish with nonstick spray.
- Peel and slice apples.
- Combine the remaining apple ingredients, and then toss sliced apples to coat. Layer seasoned apples into the bottom of the casserole dish.
- In a clean bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Stir with a fork until coarse crumbles are formed. Evenly distribute topping over the apples in the casserole dish.
- Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes until the topping is golden and the pecans are toasted.
- Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes or serve piping hot with vegan vanilla ice cream.
While we were in Georgia, I used my wifely persuasion powers(and my super pathetic pout) and convinced Andy to take me apple picking. I’ve lived in Florida my entire life so apple picking hasn’t ever been something I’d have easy access to, but I was bound and determined to make it happen this year.
After a little research online, Andy and I decided on BJ Reece Orchards since they opened early and were only an hour away from where we were staying.
We got a little turned around trying to figure out where we needed to go since the orchard is actually on both sides of the road plus they have a store where they sell all of their beautiful produce. The good news was the entrance to the orchard was right near the petting zoo; the bad news was we couldn’t go in because it wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday. I still said good morning to all of the animals and told them how very adorable they were.
You might not know this, but going apple picking after it’s rained for four days straight isn’t the best idea. Being from Florida, and a little naïve, I only had two types of shoes with me on this trip. Flip flops and heels, neither are good for stomping around in the mud. I stuck with the flip flops, but Andy had to catch me at least half a dozen times before we made it far enough into the orchard for the grass to be thick enough to counter act the slippery mud. It’s pretty funny now, but at the time I was seriously reconsidering the outing.
Once I got my feet firmly planted, I got down to serious apple picking business. The weather was great, we were the only people in the orchard, and once we found the area we wanted (Granny Smith, please!), we quickly filled our bags.
I even got to save Andy from falling. I was really paying attention to where I was walking after the slippery mud, but my sneaker clad husband wasn’t nearly as cautious and he slid on a rotten apple. Clearly, we are meant to be together.
Before getting back on the road, we took a quick look around the orchard’s store. We bought some apple butter and some pastries for the road. They had the best apple hand pies that I’ve ever had. Seriously amazing.
And of course, I had to take pictures of the farm cats. Poor little ones were a dirty from playing in the mud, but they were having a blast rolling around in it.
The down side to having Monday off: This week feels SUPER long. I don’t know why, it just does. I know next week is going to be a little crazy, driving to NC, driving back from NC, baking, packing, cooking and unpacking. There is going to be a lot to do. What does this have to do with today’s recipe. Nothing. I guess I could stretch it and say that this is a day in need of comfort food and this cake, especially when warm, is most definitely comfort food; but considering my “get up and go” got up and went like 4 hours ago….It’s more of a break and bake cookie day. We’ve got it down to a science at Casa Bucior.
Apple Spice Cake
Yield = 1 bundt pan, serves 8 to 10
Butter for greasing pan
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting pan
1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup butter (melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith*
1 cup chopped pecans
*I used Granny Smith apples for my cake.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch bunt pan. Beat the oil, butter and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, spices and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples and pecans, and stir until combined.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for an hour to an 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.