Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick Apple Cake

This simple, buttery apple cake is from the Richard Sax' masterpiece of a cookbook Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes from Around the World, published in 1994.  It is called "Ligita's Quick Apple Cake" and of it he says:

"Stick a bookmark right here, and leave it in. Sort of a 'quick apple pie without the crust,' this cake has become one of my all-time favorite, most-often made recipes."

That's quite a claim. That, and the quirkiness of the recipe, convinced me to give it a try.

Sax says it's not necessary to brown the butter once it has melted, but it does add a certain richness to the cake. Use a quality butter, such as Plugra.

Think of this as a large butter cookie with apples. Or a a huge apple doughnut. Sax insists "it wants vanilla ice cream." Perhaps. But a good cup of tea or fresh-brewed coffee is just as wonderful.

I ground 4 fresh allspice berries to add to the cinnamon. Next time, I will omit the lemon juice and add a bit of vanilla extract instead. I used two large Honey Crisp apples and one Granny Smith. They were just beginning to get a bit soft, so I sliced them thick.

The "black" apples are heirloom "Black Twig" apples. They are sweet-tart and better in cakes
than in pies . . . that is if you can find them. It's a bit easier if you live near
the Appalachian chain of mountains here in North Carolina.

Serves 8
  • 3 medium-sized tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced, about 3 cups
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon mixed with ...
  • ... About 3-4 whole allspice berries, ground. 
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sifted, all-purpose flour
How easy was that?

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 10-inch Pyrex pie dish, not using the butter called for in recipe.

Toss the apples in a bowl with the lemon juice, vanilla, if using, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon mixture. Spread apples evenly in the buttered dish.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until lightly golden, about five minutes or so. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Pour the clear, browned butter into a bowl, leaving any sediment or foam in the pan.

Stir the 3/4 cup sugar into the butter. Gently stir in the eggs; stir in the flour until blended. Spoon the batter evenly over the apples and spread into a layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake until lightly golden and crusty. 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the dish on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve from the pan warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flea-Market Bargains!

This past weekend was the flea-market "extravaganza" outside of Charlotte, NC. There is one extravaganza in the spring and then the autumn. Neither is to be missed. The others are the first weekend of each month.

We had great weather. And great bargains. The first was a motherlode of restaurant dishes that I collect. They are not easy to find and then there I was staring at an entire box! The woman who owned the booth said, "Oh, you can have that whole box for twenty dollars." I was dumbfounded. The cheapest I ever paid for one dinner plate was eight dollars! I didn't argue and handed over a Jackson!

The box had one dinner plate with dividers. Very cool. Lots of coffee cups but only one saucer. Restaurant wear is heavy, doesn't chip easily, takes the heat of a dishwasher, and keeps food warmer for longer than most other dishes.

The next bargain was a McCoy 11-inch mixing bowl. I've always wanted a vintage bowl, but the prices can be a bit steep. This one was in great condition. No cracks and the glaze was not crackled. It was $98.00! But the price was crossed out and I thought it said $25. When I finally put my glasses on, it really said "Booth # 25. The new price was 70.00. I told my sister that if it was 50 I'd take it. And then a voice behind me said, "I'll take fifty dollars for it." It was from the woman who owned the booth. I handed over a Grant immediately.

This is the McCoy "window pane" bowl. The next day I saw a smaller one in another shop. It was 98.00! LOL . . . This bowl will sit on my dining room table.